The Australian man alleged to be behind globe-spanning Ponzi scheme Centaur Litigation has disappeared in south-east Asia.
Liquidators appointed by a court in tax haven the Cayman Islands say they cannot find Scott Williams, who appears to have been a key player in the complex litigation funding group, and another executive, Briton Brendan Terrill.
Up to $160 million pumped into the Centaur network by investors is at risk amid allegations £5 million ($9.12 million) has been paid into a bank account controlled by Mr Williams.
Liquidator Said Jahani, of Grant Thornton, said he wanted to talk to Mr Williams and Mr Terrill.
''Every person I ask shrugs their shoulders, but we need to find those individuals and bring them in and see what they have to say for themselves,'' he said.
Mr Williams was last said to be in Thailand, where a company linked to him, Banyan Asia Co, was based.
In documents filed with the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands last month, three Centaur companies disclosed debts of about $110 million, made up of about $77.5 million owed to investors, with the bulk of the remainder ''future litigation funding obligations''.
Alongside Mr Jahani, who is based in Sydney, the Grand Court appointed two colleagues as provisional liquidators: Hugh Dickson in the Cayman Islands and David Bennett in Hong Kong. Mr Jahani said he now had control of ''a good chunk'' of records kept by the group in Sydney, Hong Kong, the UK and the Cayman Islands.
''I've got a team going through that at the moment and I'd be lucky if we're a quarter of the way through what we've collected so far,'' he said.
''Until you shake the tree you don't know what might fall out.''
He said his first priority was to preserve the assets of the group - cash in a bank account and its stake in lawsuits it funded.
''There's one main account we've put our foot on - those funds are now sitting in my solicitor's trust account,'' he said.
He said he would also investigate whether Centaur had a legal claim over the alleged misappropriation of funds. Centaur and one of its offshoots, Jersey-based Argentum Capital, funded a Federal Court class action against the Commonwealth over an equine flu outbreak in 2007.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn ended the deal in May, but Mr Jahani said Centaur still held ''a number of cases they have been funding which are mid-stream''.
Who owns Centaur remains unclear. In its Grand Court filings, the group claimed it was ultimately owned by Centaur Group Holdings Pty Ltd Unit Trust.
However, Australian corporate records show only two companies have ever been named Centaur Group Holdings Pty Ltd and both are deregistered. Mr Jahani said he did not know if the unit trust existed.
He said the principals of Sydney-based advisory Dequity Partners - Klaus Selinger, Simon Franklin and Stuart Hackett - who took over the running of Centaur from Mr Terrill earlier this year ''offered me full co-operation and they've offered up their books and records. I've interviewed Klaus, who was the director of the Centaur entities, and then I've separately interviewed Stuart and Simon, who are directors of the Buttonwood management company.''