Ask Miami asset recovery lawyer Edward H. Davis Jr. where in the world he hasn’t been, and he’ll have to pause for a moment to think.
Israel — Davis hasn’t gone there yet. But by next week it’ll be the 81st country he’s visited, edging him one step closer to a spot in the Travelers’ Century Club.
“You have to prove you’ve been to 100 countries to join,” Davis said. “I’m on my way.”
Lucky for Davis, founding shareholder of Sequor Law, fraudsters don’t just leave stolen money in their backyard. They scatter it all over the globe, using it to buy outlandish collectibles, unconventional modes of transport and exotic pets.
As a representative of fraud victims, it’s Davis’ job to seize those assets, sell them and return as much as possible to the client.
“We’ve repossessed some very, very beautiful sports cars, yachts and airplanes. We’ve recovered land, houses, hotels,” Davis said. “One time we got a guy’s prized dog and prized parrot, and were able to sell them back to him for money to give to the victims.”
Davis once recovered a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting, bought with money a fraudster had stolen from a Brazilian bank. He represented the liquidator in the case and sold the piece by the renowned painter for $13 million.
“I hate to say this, but it looked like a 5-year-old drew it,” Davis said. ”The fraudster paid $1.2 million for it, so we actually made money on that particular piece.”
Davis also seized a Serge Poliakoff painting that once belonged to Edemar Cid Ferreira, former president of Brazilian bank Banco Santos, who was charged with money laundering.
Offshore jurisdictions and remote islands are particularly popular hiding place for fraudsters, who “try to use places that are hard to get to and hard to find,” according to Davis.
Mauritius, Guernsey, Dominica, the British Virgin Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dutch and French sides of Saint Martin — all regular haunts.
Davis has also been to Finland twice, but only to the airport, so it doesn’t count toward his 100-country goal.
“I’m very strict about that,” he said.