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Russian Property Fraud – A Case Study

Rock-of-Gibraltar

This is an outline of a recent case conducted on behalf of a Russian property company when we achieved a fantastic result for them through our ingenuity, global experience and determination.

Our clients owned a number of commercial properties in Russia. One such property, value approximately £2.5m, was utilised as a business centre producing income of approximately £70,000 per month. Ownership of the building had been vested in an off-shore Gibraltar-based company set up by a U.K. formation company.

With the benefit of inside information, the fraudsters effected a fraudulent sale of this company to another off-shore company they had set up in a different jurisdiction. They then registered this company as the sole owners of the building with the Russian Land Registry.

Imagine the shock of the real owners when the bailiffs turned up to evict them from their own building.

We traced and interviewed the nominee director of the Gibraltar company, took statements and samples of signatures to prove he had not signed any documents in relation to the sale and that his signature was a forgery.

We travelled to Gibraltar, obtained all sale documents relating to the sale from Companies House and interviewed the Notary whose stamp and seal had appeared on the sale documents. We also examined his register of notarisations and obtained statements to confirm all documents were forgeries. We also took statements from the Notary and from a principal of the Gibraltar management company who had also been a director of the company.

All documents were notarised at the Foreign Office in Gibraltar and an Apostille was obtained from the Foreign Office in London.

The documents were translated into Russian and the witnesses, our agents and the translator all attended at the Russian Embassy where all documents were signed and further notarised by a Consul and forwarded directly to the Russian court so there could be no further questions as to their validity.

This investigation resulted in the court ruling that the building should be returned to its rightful owners and a substantial compensation order was made.