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Cross-border expertise key to advising multinationals on white-collar crime

Annual Review 2017-2018

June 2018

A sustained focus on corporate crime by regulators and lawmakers following the 2008 financial crisis, coupled with stricter regulatory controls and new, more aggressive corporate offences, have led to an increasing number of high-profile corporate prosecutions and regulatory enforcement actions. This has increased the need for multijurisdictional legal and strategic advice to global clients who become aware of potential violations internally or find themselves under investigation.

CMS’s investigations and sector specialists across a number of jurisdictions have recently advised a global business on a number of unrelated issues in several jurisdictions, some arising from internal reporting and others from regulatory action. While some issues were confined to the local jurisdiction where they arose, others required multijurisdictional advice due to the nature of the issue and the structure of the client’s operations, with oversight of some country operations being conducted from other group hub businesses elsewhere.

This required the client and CMS team to look at the issues holistically, for example to maximise legal privilege protection and identify what countries were affected and what legal advice needed to be obtained. The team also had to consider what wider legal and other issues could arise beyond the limited regulatory or criminal concern itself and how the approaches to each issue should be balanced and coordinated to achieve the best possible outcome for the client, while ensuring minimal exposure and risk as a consequence of the investigation process itself and its outcomes.

This complex analysis required us to mobilise specialist teams in each relevant jurisdiction to work together, look across the legal horizon to issue-spot and strategise how to resolve them without creating additional exposures for the client. Through working with the client effectively on each case, we have now been engaged on multiple matters in at least five jurisdictions, including a number of CEE countries and including directly advising the global General Counsel. This is just one of many examples of how close and effective cooperation between specialists in different teams, sectors and jurisdictions have helped clients through their most sensitive and critical issues.

CMS Budapest partner and Head of the CMS Dispute Resolution Group, Zsolt Okányi, commented, “Having top-tier investigation lawyers in key jurisdictions, as CMS does, is still rare. The element of trust and shared know-how this generates is important when clients are facing inconvenient issues across borders.”

CMS London partner and Head of the Risk & Investigations Team, Omar Qureshi, said, “Corporate crime work often raises complex and overlapping legal and strategic issues, which are sometimes not complementary. A key part of our work is spotting those issues and working seamlessly with the client to identify what is most important to them and what risks they are most willing to accept when conducting the investigation. That is true of cases with no international element, but is particularly true when – as is often the case – the matter is multijurisdictional, due to the global nature of the client’s business and the enhanced risk of exposure through improved controls and greater cooperation between national agencies.”

CMS London partner and Head of Lifesciences Regulatory, Shuna Mason, commented, “The CMS sector focus has proved especially important for winning these types of mandates. It means CMS teams have a deep understanding of the commercial and regulatory practicalities of the sector from the outset. This spares clients the burden of having to educate their external counsel.”

CMS Lisbon partner Nuno Pena added, “The only way to receive an internal investigation mandate is to be part of a global law firm which masters this field. They wouldn’t choose a trusted advisor and a complete outsider either.”

Times are changing: harassment claims from the news quickly appeared in our daily workload. As it is not always self-explanatory where the borders lie, knowledge sharing among CMS teams will again be a key factor.
Zsolt Okányi, Partner, CMS Budapest

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