< Our Experience | Investigations | Fraud

Royal-backed advance fee fraud


Greyhawk was instructed by the general counsel of an electric vehicle manufacturer to investigate a suspected fraud. The client had been approached by the directors of an Abu Dhabi-based investment fund. Its chair claimed to be a member of the ruling family. The fund was offering to lend our client $500m. The client’s internal due diligence had included face-to-face meetings with the lenders. The investment fund’s promotional literature and press coverage included photographs of UAE ministers participating in the fund’s launch events. When Greyhawk was contacted, the client was days away from paying the first of two “loan administration” charges of $1m.


On our advice the client immediately paused payment of the up-front fees. Working at speed over one week, Greyhawk combined a variety of investigative approaches to assess the legitimacy of the fund and its directors. Discreet enquiries with local sources established that the ruling family member held a very minor role and that some of his representations to our client were untrue. Analysis of open sources in the UK found that another director of the fund was implicated in a VAT fraud. He was also being pursued by creditors in Switzerland. Thanks to contacts in Ukraine, we found that claims regarding a previous loan deal in that country were exaggerated and that Ukrainian diplomats had warned against it.


Our investigation left no doubt that the fund was a type of “advance fee fraud” and that its representatives would disappear as soon as it received the $2m “administration” charges. Our client immediately withdrew from the transaction.