Locating and securing concealed assets is a difficult task, particularly when the debtor uses complex cross border corporate structures. Also due to the favourable Dutch tax climate many foreign businesses have a presence in the Netherlands, thus creating jurisdiction for certain legal actions in the Netherlands. Those actions will be discussed below.
The Netherlands are generally considered to be an arrest paradise. Leave to freeze / arrest assets is easily obtained in ex parte proceedings if an arguable case can be stated. Also, debtors can be forced to disclose documents and give witness evidence under oath before proceedings on the merits are commenced.
Our firm is specialised in searching for your debtor’s (hidden) assets in the Netherlands, such as monies held in account or valuables kept in a bank’s safe deposit box, movable and immovable properties (such as real estate), shares in companies, property rights, etc.
If assets are located it is relatively easy to obtain leave from the local injunction judge to freeze those assets. Where no assets can be located, there are still possibilities, such as the possibility to make so called “shotgun-attachments”, which are attachments made at some or all of the major Dutch banks on any possible assets possibly being held there by the debtor. Within 30 days following the attachments the concerned banks are obliged to inform the creditor whether any assets have been attached or not.
Even in cases which – at first glance – do not seem related to the Netherlands, it may prove worthwhile to search for assets in the Netherlands or to check if the debtor has any affiliated company domiciled in the Netherlands. It was in this manner that our firm located money held in a bank account in Amsterdam at a small branch office of a large foreign bank, which money belonged to a debtor established in Antigua & Barbuda.
Our firm’s present “attachment-record” stands at the attachment of a sum of EUR 100,000,000 held in a Dutch bank account.
Dutch law offers several possibilities for obtaining information from unwilling parties before actual proceedings on the merits are commenced. E.g. it is possible to hear witnesses under oath in court in pre-action deposition proceedings. In certain cases it is also possible to obtain an injunction against a party forcing it to disclose specific documents that the creditor requires to establish whether or not it has a case against the debtor. It is also possible to attach documentation held by the debtor for future use as evidence in legal proceedings.
Via the Dutch Chamber of Commerce it is possible to identify the directors of companies, as well as the natural persons who originally established those companies. Those natural persons will often be the beneficial owners of the company, even if they are no longer shareholders in the company. In the event that a company only has one shareholder, that shareholder’s name and address will also be registered at the Chamber of Commerce. In the event that there is more than one shareholder, the identity of the current shareholders van be found by freezing the register of shareholders or by demanding disclosure of that register.
Directors of companies can also be questioned under oath in court concerning the identity of the “economic” or beneficial owners of a company.
Asset recovery work is often not limited to one jurisdiction. Via our international network of correspondents we are able to assist you in most jurisdictions of the world.
All in all, the Netherlands are a very favourable jurisdiction for arresting assets and obtaining evidence and information. Through our international network of correspondents we can assist you in almost any jurisdiction in the world. Please feel free to contact any of the lawyers at our firm if you would like to discuss these possibilities in more detail.