Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

GIR Awards 2019 – Most Important Court Case of the Year and Investigations Consultancy of the Year

James Thomas

21 August 2019

GIR Awards 2019 – Most Important Court Case of the Year and Investigations Consultancy of the Year

Over the coming days GIR will reveal shortlists for its fifth annual awards ceremony, which will be held on 24 October in Washington, DC, at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Read on for the nominees in the categories of Most Important Case of the Year and Investigations Consultancy of the Year.

The 2019 Awards will take place on the evening of 24 October after the inaugural GIR Live Sanctions, Export Control and National Security conference.

The black-tie event will provide a chance to celebrate the investigations lawyers and practices that have impressed most in the past year and is held in aid of Swawou Layout Girl’s School in Kenema, Sierra Leone, which helps disadvantaged girls in the region.

GIR’s top 30 investigations practices will also be unveiled on the night and the event will culminate with a career achievement award for one exceptionally respected and admired individual.

Most Important Court Case of the Year – the nominees:

Greece’s landmark prosecution of pharma execs

The case was the culmination of years of multinational corporate bribery investigations into pharmaceutical companies such as household name Johnson & Johnson. Greece successfully prosecuted 13 former executives and medical professionals after US and UK authorities settled related charges with companies in 2011. The international case also threw up double jeopardy concerns as Greek prosecutors attempted to use evidence gathered by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office to help form their own case against Robert John Dougall, former vice president of DePuy, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary. He was eventually acquitted of fraud on double jeopardy grounds and of money laundering based on evidence presented in court. The SFO testified at trial after being called as a witness by Dougall’s lawyers.

Counsel to John Dougall 

In Greece 

Namias Law 

Partner Ovvadias Namias in Athens 

In the UK 

BCL Solicitors 

Partner Shaul Brazil in London

Counsel to Nicola Gifford 

In Greece 

Georgios Pyromallis Law Office 

Partner Georgios Pyromallis in Athens 

In the US 

Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman 

Partner Mary Mulligan and counsel Bonnie Baker in New York, assisted by Nora Bojar

Sweden v Lars Nyberg, Tero Kivisaari and Olli Tuohimaa

Sweden’s Bribery Act came under fire after a court in February acquitted three former executives at telecoms company Telia of foreign corruption. The case against Lars Nyberg, Tero Kivisaari and Olli Tuohimaa collapsed because under Swedish law prosecutors must prove that the money was paid to a public official. Prosecutors had accused the trio of bribing Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of former Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov, for local contracts. The court ruled that prosecutors had failed to prove that Karimova was a public official. An intriguing side-effect of the acquittals meant that Sweden could not claim its share of a trilateral settlement signed in 2017 between it, the US, the Netherlands and Telia. As Sweden does not have corporate criminal liability, it could only collect the money if it secured convictions against the individuals. Sweden’s $208.5 million share of the penalty instead went to the Netherlands.

Counsel to Lars Nyberg

Advokatfirman Nova

Partners Cristina Bergner and Stephane Pleijel in Stockholm

Counsel to Tero Kivisaari

Advokatgruppen I Stockholm

Partners Staffan Bergqvist and Leif Gustafson in Stockholm

Counsel to Olli Tuohimaa

Nordia

Partners Olle Kullinger and Hans Strandberg in Stockholm

US v Bogucki

The Justice Department’s attempt to prosecute complex financial misconduct using general fraud charges was dealt a blow in March with the acquittal of Robert Bogucki, Barclays’ former US head of forex trading. Accused of orchestrating a $6 billion front-running scheme that harmed US information technology company HP, Bogucki’s legal team at Kaplan Hecker & Fink and Clarence Dyer & Cohen convinced a San Francisco federal court judge that the case lacked merit. The Justice Department’s case collapsed shortly after the trial began. The presiding judge said no jury could reasonably convict Bogucki on the evidence presented.

Counsel to Robert Bogucki

Kaplan Hecker & Fink

Partner Sean Hecker, senior associate Derek Wikstrom and associates Alexandra Conlon and Abra Metz-Dworkin in New York

Clarence Dyer & Cohen

Partners Josh Cohen and Adam Shearer in San Francisco

US v Connolly and Black

In May, the chief Manhattan federal judge, Colleen McMahon, issued a stark warning to the government against outsourcing investigations to private law firms. Her comments came in a judgment that denied motions submitted by former Deutsche Bank trader Gavin Black for his acquittal of his 2018 Libor manipulation conviction. Black petitioned Judge McMahon to drop the convictions on the grounds that he was compelled to give testimony during Deutsche Bank’s internal investigation, in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights. The judge said she had been “deeply troubled” because Black had shown compelling evidence that the internal investigation conducted by Deutsche Bank’s lawyers at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison was directed by the government. The law firm had worked with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice on the investigation. 

Counsel to Gavin Black

Levine Lee

Partners Seth Levine, Jillian Berman and Miriam Alinikoff in New York

US v Usher et al

A Manhattan federal jury acquitted three UK former traders in October 2018 of manipulating prices in the foreign exchange market. Richard Usher, Rohan Ramchandani and Christopher Ashton, former traders at JPMorganChase, Citigroup and Barclays respectively, had allegedly used an online chatroom to fix forex prices for euros and US dollars to improve their own trading positions. The prosecutions were brought after investigations across the globe that resulted in $10 billion in fines for various banks, including the former employers of the three defendants.

Counsel to Christopher Ashton

Schertler & Onorato

Partners David Schertler and Lisa Manning in Washington, DC

Counsel to Rohan Ramchandani

WilmerHale

Partner Anjan Sahni in New York, special counsel Chris Johnstone and partner Heather Tewksbury in Palo Alto, and partner Thomas Mueller and senior associate Renita Khanduja in Washington, DC

Counsel to Richard Usher

White & Case

Partners Michael Kendall and Kevin Bolan in Boston, Jonathan Pickworth in London, Mark Gidley in Washington, DC and Andrew Tomback in New York

Investigations Consultancy of the Year – the nominees:

Forensic Risk Alliance (FRA)

It has been yet another stellar year for FRA, which found work on some of the most complex cross-border cases. It conducted an internal investigation for the embattled Swedish bank Swedbank, which is tied up in a continent-wide money laundering scandal. FRA published its results in March. The firm also conducted the forensic analysis for Swedish telecoms company Telia before it paid the final chunk of a $965 million trilateral resolution to the Netherlands in March, following an investigation carried out by Swedish, Dutch and US authorities.

PwC

The firm has this year only enhanced its already excellent record. It has been advising software company HP in its ongoing civil battle with Mike Lynch, the former CEO of fellow software company Autonomy. HP is suing Lynch and Autonomy’s ex-CFO Sushovan Hussain over its $11 billion acquisition of Autonomy, which allegedly forced the company to take a $8.8 billion write-down. The consultancy had a role in responding to the sprawling 1MDB scandal, conducting a preliminary investigation for the Malaysian government and testifying in legal proceedings over the matter. PwC also conducted an internal investigation into South African furniture company Steinhoff after allegations of accounting irregularities emerged.

Control Risks

A regular partner to law firms on investigations and monitorships, Control Risks continues to be called on by big clients to handle the most sensitive matters. The consultancy has worked on notable monitorships for financial institutions such as Deutsche Bank. Beyond that it is helping a leading information technology company on an ongoing investigation into various allegations of misconduct. With specialists in offices across five continents, it is little wonder clients regularly turn to Control Risks.

Registration for the awards is now open. The awards ceremony will be held after GIR Live Sanctions, Export Control and National Security, also on 24 October.

GIR has also announced the shortlists for the Enforcement Agency or Prosecutor of the Year and Emerging Enforce of the Year categories, as well as those for Boutique or Regional Investigations Practice of the Year and Outstanding In-house Counsel of the Year. GIR will continue to announce all nominees over the next few days.

If you worked on any of the nominated cases but were not included on the counsel list, please contact us with details on your involvement.