Quantuma Advisory Limited
Suite N404, Flagship Building, 142 Seafarers Way, George Town
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Peers and clients say:
"Angela has strong cross-border experience working on engagements outside of the norm"
“She is both eminently experienced and amazingly practical”
“Her strengths are her industry knowledge, perseverance and commercial understanding; above all, she is excellent with clients”
Angela Barkhouse is a Managing Director for Quantuma, and leads both the Caribbean practice and the cross-border asset recovery group. Her broad expertise in financial investigations, dispute resolution, asset tracing and recovery, provide her with the knowledge to derive practical solutions to seemingly complex cross-border issues. Angela leads high-profile and complex investigations into fraud, corruption, conflicts of interest and stolen sovereign wealth and recovers financial losses and stolen assets for her clients.
What do you enjoy most about your role as an asset recovery expert?
I enjoy the various challenges asset recovery cases present, from outwitting fraudsters, working closely with legal counsel to overcome complex issues, and building relationships with clients. I love the problem-solving aspect of asset recovery; trying to find a straight-line solution to a seemingly difficult situation. It’s important to me that the client gets the right result, a win for the client is a win for me too.
I enjoy dealing with different jurisdictions and learning new legislation. Although I haven’t been able to travel so much in the last couple of years, I enjoy meeting people from all over the world, broadening my horizons and being exposed to new ideas. I am looking forward to doing this again soon.
To what extent should financial institutions be hesitant in seeking offshore asset recovery?
All potential claimants need to be hesitant before undertaking litigation or action to recover assets. Firstly, they should have comfort that there are assets to pursue. Where there is little or no information as to whether a respondent has assets, then there can be a cost benefit to undertaking an asset tracing exercise to ensure any effort to recover will be rewarded.
Secondly, claimants need to ensure they are engaging with local experts. It frustrates me when I speak to clients whose lawyer/in-house counsel claim that there is no point in bringing action in the BVI or Cayman because the assets are not there (I can hear my offshore colleagues collectively sighing in agreement).
Indeed, those assets are highly unlikely to be in the BVI or Cayman, but the entity that holds those assets, or participated in the wrongdoing was incorporated and exists there; and there are laws to protect creditors and victims of wrong-doing.
Using insolvency, a lender/financial institution can take action as a creditor for the return of the funds owed to it, and upon appointment a liquidator is afforded wide-ranging powers with the authority of the Court to compel directors and third parties to provide critical information which may identify wrong-doing and the location of assets. As liquidator or receiver I am able to take into my custody and control all the assets to which the company is or appears to be entitled; and, to do all such things as may be necessary to protect the company’s assets. That means obtaining information from banks, freezing bank accounts and having the liquidation recognised in jurisdictions where assets do exist, so that those are taken into the control of the liquidator for the benefit of creditors.
Moreover, that process is often vastly cheaper than litigating onshore; the costs of recovery can be borne out of the liquidation estate, that is, from the very SPV or entity that defrauded a client, ensuring that the claimant can focus their capital resources on their business, maximising profits for its shareholders and promoting growth, rather than dealing in unfamiliar legal territory, or potentially costly and lengthy proceedings.
We have often seen financial institutions hesitate at recovering assets offshore due to perceived difficulties, but except for the first point, and ensuring assets do exist, such hesitation can be overestimated. Successful asset recovery via offshore jurisdictions is achievable and put simply, it should not be a difficult option to pursue.
As managing director of Quantuma Advisory and head of the Caribbean practice, how are you positioning your practice competitively over the next year?
Quantuma has achieved incredible growth in the last year, opening offices in Singapore, Dubai, Poland and the BVI, along with Cayman, Mauritius, Cyprus and London.
We believe that we are fast becoming the preferred advisory firm with a genuine “offshore” practice; because we do not undertake audit work, we are truly conflict free, and because our offshore offices are not led by our onshore offices (although we gladly work closely together). We are truly independent in thought when offering client advice.
With regards to the Caribbean practice, the recruitment of talent is key. Within my team I have recognised subject matter experts in enforcement and regulatory investigations, staff who have sat on multiparty working groups to devise national approaches to investigating investment fraud, intelligence and asset tracing experts, investigators who have worked with international financial institutions, central banks and law enforcement agencies, insolvency knowledge experts and mentors. We believe in a truly multidisciplinary approach, in order to provide the most efficient and effective support to our clients, and legal counsel.
How has the increasingly virtual nature of international work and client relations affected your practice?
It has been a positive factor for our practice. We have been able to meet with potential clients who are located in other countries far quicker; in the past it may have been required to visit certain clients in person, which can be a costly and time inefficient exercise, no matter how much I enjoy international travel.
Conversely, we have found that with clients becoming increasingly comfortable with meeting virtually, clients are more willing to contact and speak to us directly, rather than through onshore (US or UK for example) offices, allowing them to obtain direct and relevant advice more efficiently and making key decisions sooner.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming asset recovery experts?
Try to think creatively and laterally around problems. Sometimes the well-trodden path is not necessarily the best route to recovery.