Peers and clients say:
“Andrew is the most effective investigator in the market”
"He is supremely effective in asset recovery matters"
Co-founder of specialist investigations firm Raedas, Andrew is a pioneer in the use of investigations in legal disputes. An expert in complex asset tracing and recovery, fraud and corruption mandates, and in assisting clients facing personal threats – from politically unjustified extradition requests to politically motivated accusations of corruption – Andrew has been engaged in many of the last three decades’ most prominent disputes across MENA, the CIS, Asia and the Americas.
What inspired you to pursue a career in investigations?
Like many in the industry I fell into it, but had the pleasure of working with Ambrose Carey and Jules Kroll who were inspiring mentors.
What qualities make for a successful investigator?
The skill is in being able to understand what information is of value to your client and how to use it, and then being willing to test the information you receive. The worst failing of investigators is grabbing hold of information that supports a pre-conceived narrative, and being unprepared to be sceptical or find intelligence that challenges these preconceptions. A good investigator will look at information that supports their theory with the harshest eye. No client is grateful for false information that superficially supports a pretty theory but in the long term produces nothing but embarrassment or harms their case.
Once you have the requisite intelligence the skill is then knowing how best to deploy it in support of your client’s case. For this it is essential to understand the legal process, maintain good relations with the international press, and have a smart tactical nous.
How do you prepare for multi-jurisdictional investigations?
It’s best to start broad. Consider the relevant jurisdictions, including for example where the subjects have lived, had businesses, banking relationships and any other footprint. For completeness’ sake, it is crucial to obtain and review all possible information held by the client. It is then down to the investigator to prioritise jurisdictions based on factors such as legal strategy, the extent and nature of the subjects’ footprint, and the accessibility of information. Lastly, you need to know what information is available in each key jurisdiction, either in the public record or via in-country contacts, in particular regarding the retrieval of corporate, property and legal records.
What are the greatest challenges currently faced by asset recovery and investigations specialists in complex cross-border cases, and how can these be overcome?
Sophisticated debtors consistently pose a challenge to investigators. They typically use a combination of offshore companies, trusts and nominees in offshore and/or opaque jurisdictions to conceal their ownership of assets and frustrate creditors. One workaround is to take advantage of positive changes in disclosure requirements, such as in the BVI this year. Searching leaked corporate datasets also often presents areas for further investigation. Identifying bank accounts is another significant challenge as very rarely is such information available in the public domain. This is a scenario where working with legal counsel is crucial. For instance, identifying a sufficiently strong footprint in the US could allow for section 1782 discovery. However, the well prepared and smart debtor holds almost all the advantages. The international legal system varies widely in its ability to help the lawyer and investigator in pursuing the debtor, and no creditor has unlimited resources for the pursuit of a debtor.
How have frauds become more sophisticated over the past five years, and how do you think they could evolve in the near future?
Fraudsters have certainly become more sophisticated as they continue to leverage emerging technologies to their advantage – whether by concealing misappropriated assets in non-fungible tokens and cryptocurrencies, or launching smear campaigns via the Dark Web. Fortunately for investigators, these so-called “hiding places” are traceable, and so fraudsters are not as invisible as they would like to think. Looking forward, I think this trend to utilise technology will continue – with large language models and advanced AI being leveraged to create the appearance of genuine activity.
What challenges did you face when setting up Raedas?
We created Raedas to support clients in their most complex, high-stakes disputes – and from day one we have been fortunate in attracting the best investigators in the market. However, there is a degree of client trust that investigators must earn – through doing good, reliable and legally admissible work – to be brought into these complex cases. We were confident of our value, but it took time to demonstrate our abilities and build a reputation. Having the patience, when you have a skilled team who can deliver, is very challenging. It is now nearly seven years since we started Raedas, and whilst the challenges look quite different to us today, earning and maintaining our clients’ trust remains a priority.
What are your main priorities for the firm’s development over the next five years?
Our priority is to grow and develop in absolute alignment with our clients’ needs. We have bolstered our Blockchain and digital currency capabilities, and have expanded into the United States to reflect the challenges our clients are increasingly facing. We want to continue to attract top talent, and there is always a discussion around further expansion across key jurisdictions.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
"Don’t presume to be the smartest person in the room" – you have to stay inquisitive, learn, listen – and surround yourself with experts who know more about a particular subject than you do. Knowing where your blind spots are – ultimately – is what makes for a good investigator.