- Negotiating breakdowns in family and commercial trust disputes
- Resolving complex issues
- A steady hand protecting value amidst conflict
The breakdown in relations between parties to a trust, whether structured for a family or on a corporate basis, can leave current service providers either conflicted or unable to act with the necessary conviction in order to protect the value of the trust’s assets and interests of the beneficiaries.
Our professionals are routinely instructed to bring their expertise in dispute resolution to a variety of trust scenarios. These range from family or corporate disputes, to litigation, white collar crime and money laundering allegations, regulatory infractions and proprietary tracing disputes.
By introducing our experienced professionals into the equation, who are objective and free from conflict or the involvement in prior disputes, measures can be taken to begin the resolution of what are often very sensitive situations.
When such disputes create a commercially unattractive environment for incumbent service providers, it can be essential to install an objective and independent fiduciary partner to actively manage the trust assets and protect value for all stakeholders.
Our experience covers some unique situations that demonstrate our commitment to solution orientated engagement. Relevant examples of our recent work include:
Appointed as directors to a PTC, in turn appointed as trustee to a structured finance product, we undertook a remit of compelling the underlying manager to more effectively negotiate a Madoff trustee settlement. Using our experience in relation to settlement of claims and litigation we supported the underlying manager to collect over US$425 million, resulting in realisations of over US$25 million for the underlying trust, significantly exceeding the expectations of the beneficiary of the trust.
Defence of US forfeiture claims and cross-border allegations of money laundering
In relation to assets held in numerous family trusts the United States Department of Justice alleged in multiple US civil forfeiture complaints significant allegations of money laundering, bribery and corruption in relation to cash and assets settled into the trusts. The incumbent institutional trustees were unwilling to defend the assets and were unable to continue effectively managing the assets in trust. We were appointed by various courts as replacement trustees to allow the proper defence of the claims whilst managing the underlying assets to preserve their value until the conclusion of the litigation.
Trustee to defend trust assets in relation to SFO allegations
Where beneficiaries faced investigation by the UK Serious Fraud Office in relation to allegations of bribery to secure various contracts with Middle East nations and companies the incumbent trustee in relation to various long held family assets became paralysed and unable to efficiently manage the assets. The beneficiaries sought our appointment as replacement trustee to take a pragmatic and robust approach to the administration of the trust whilst the litigation and investigations continued.
Co-trustee appointment to assist with defence of litigation
After identifying real and impending risk of litigation the current trustee along with the beneficiaries sought our appointment as co-trustee to enhance the capabilities of the trustee to defend litigation against various assets when it arose. We worked with the current trustee to oversee the normal operation of the trust and assets in the ordinary course of business whilst coordinating and preparing with legal counsel for the defence of litigation.
Following the death of an intestate shareholder we were appointed as administrator by the Cayman Court in accordance with the Cayman Islands Succession Law to administrator the Cayman Islands estate. We conducted enquiries of Cayman Islands and global service providers to ascertain the contents of the Cayman Islands estate, many of which were located in other jurisdictions, established the heirs of the estate and, due to a significant delay between death of the shareholder and our appointment, began undertaking a financial review of the companies comprising the Cayman Islands estate to ensure assets had been properly accounted for and distributed.
Defensive trustee appointment
Following threats of litigation by a disenfranchised branch of the family, the beneficiaries of the trust sought our appointment as trustee and director to ensure the trust structure was robust and could effectively avail itself of the firewall provisions afforded under Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands law. Our role involves dealing with litigation issues, including confiscation and injunctive relief, and day to day management includes monitoring the normal operation of the trust, the assets and the investment manager to meet the ongoing needs of the beneficiaries.