Not only do you have to worry about offshore bank accounts, but sometimes debtors go visit their offshore accountants in planes you don’t know they own. Planes are expensive and good things to seize if you can track them down.
U.S. planes have to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), plus the state where the owner resides and possibly where the plane is stored, if there is a difference between the two. Private plane ownership can be searched by owner name, which may also include a company or family trust name. Or, if you think you’ve spotted your debtor getting into a plane that could be his, we can look up owners and their addresses via the FAA by the specific tail number, or via the make/model of the plane through the state and county where you think it might be registered. Also, FAA databases chronicle recent registrations, so if you think the plane is newly purchased within the last 30 days, there are lists that pull up the names and addresses of all recent registrants. In addition, planes have to be re-registered every three years, so FAA databases that only track recent re-registrations may also prove helpful.
Some people are allowed to have the FAA block movements of their private planes, but they need to show a valid security concern for having that information withheld from the public. Hiding assets from estranged spouses does not cut it. Flight movements are records that are easily accessible. Overseas, online networks of plane enthusiasts regularly snap photos of planes landing at the world’s major (and not so major) airports. If your debtor is flying in and out of a tax haven in a private plane on a regular basis, evidence of that plane’s movements isn’t as hard to get as one would think.
Planes also need to be stored and serviced and that can produce nice bits of litigation that blow the whistle on asset concealers. If a debtor overextends and then can’t pay the airport, that will result in liens and/or litigation, which is like blowing a nice loud whistle on debtor subterfuge.