On 3 August 2015, the Privy Council handed down judgment in The Federal Republic of Brazil v Durant International Corporation [2015] UKPC 35.

The case involved claims by Brazil, successful at first instance and on appeal, that certain of the defendants’ accounts held traceable assets of over US$10 million due to a fraud committed against a local São Paulo municipal authority. The defendants contented that as the last of the traceable payments occurred after the last of the relevant payments out of the account, a mixed account, tracing was not available.

The Privy Council held that backward tracing was available in circumstances where there is a close causal and transactional link between the relevant payments. It did not therefore matter that a debit entry appeared on the bank account of an intermediary before a reciprocal credit entry. This is an important case as it strengthens the ability of fraud and corruption victims to trace assets and not to allow assets to be put beyond their control because of the vagaries of the banking system or the structure of the transactions.