James Pomeroy is an associate director with Grant Thornton UK Forensic and investigation services. He is a CPA, CA and CFE, and a fellow of INSOL. James is a seasoned forensic and asset recovery professional, having gained a wide range of experience in many international jurisdictions over his 24-year career. His experience includes forensic accounting for disputes, asset tracing and recovery from offshore banking and investment schemes, and investigation of commercial and government fraud and corruption.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO SPECIALISE IN ASSET RECOVERY SERVICES?
Working on a number of offshore bank and investment schemes and cross-border insolvency cases early in my career brought me into close contact with many individuals who suffered life-changing financial losses. That contact sparked a more personal connection to the cases I worked on, and empathy with the victims whose lives were changed. Shifting my career focus to forensics and asset recovery appealed to me as an opportunity to make a difference.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING IN ASSET RECOVERY?
Every case is a new story, a new cast of characters, and a new puzzle to solve. I enjoy the prospect of discovering the so-called “needle in the haystack” and unwinding how the fraudster, cartel or insider has carried out the scheme. There is an added element of satisfaction when the work we do results in some manner of recompense for the victim, be it financial or through the justice system.
WHAT DO CLIENTS LOOK FOR IN AN EFFECTIVE ASSET RECOVERY EXPERT?
Clients want a trusted adviser, someone who has not only the skills, diligence and experience to get the job done, but also the creativity and wisdom to help navigate a process with which most clients have no experience of their own. Frequent and open communication ensures that issues or concerns that arise during the matter are met head on and there are no surprises for the client or the expert that might jeopardise the outcome.
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES HANDLING CROSS-BORDER ASSET RECOVERY PROCEEDINGS POSE, AND HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOU ARE PREPARED TO FACE THEM?
Legal, business, and cultural differences between jurisdictions present individual challenges and require different tactics and techniques. Nuances between how proceedings are governed in civil versus common law jurisdictions, cultural differences that impact witness interviews, varied data privacy laws, accessibility of public records, and the time scale by which investigative and legal strategies progress are all key elements that vary across borders. It’s critical that we as professionals are aware of and prepared for these challenges and that we manage our clients’ expectations around them.
WHAT IMPACT, IF ANY, HAS THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIRD-PARTY LITIGATION FUNDING HAD ON ASSET RECOVERY CASES?
Victims of fraud and corruption are often faced with the prospect of “throwing good money after bad”. Third-party litigation funding allows clients to reduce, or even completely shift their recovery risk, enabling them to consider more rigorous asset recovery strategies in situations that previously would have been considered write-offs. The concept has significantly broadened access to justice for many clients who may otherwise have viewed recovery as speculative, expensive and even futile.
HOW DO YOU SEE TECHNOLOGY REVOLUTIONISING THE WAY IN WHICH ASSET RECOVERY IS CONDUCTED?
While we are well into the age of data analysis and review using robust e-discovery platforms and traditional data analytics, I believe artificial intelligence will change how we do investigations and asset recovery. Whether identifying suspicious transactions, finding links through social media connections or financial networks, this technology is reshaping how we look at asset recovery. Blockchain technology is developing rapidly and users are finding new uses to move and hide value. Developing technology and techniques that enable asset recovery professionals to stay a step ahead will be crucial.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOUR PRACTICE DEVELOP OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
Being new to Grant Thornton, I am keen to develop the forensic and investigations services practice in the Caribbean as a complement to our existing asset recovery team in the region. We will continue to explore new technologies and innovation as we provide distinctive client service.
LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?
I’ve been fortunate to have had many wonderful moments in my career. In 2010, I completed the global insolvency practice course through INSOL International, becoming a fellow of INSOL. The programme combined my principal areas of interest in a manner of “professional immersion” alongside some of the pre-eminent cross-border insolvency and asset recovery professionals in the world.