GIR 100 2020

Forensic Risk Alliance

Professional notice

Forensic Risk Alliance celebrated its 20th anniversary in December 2019 and can look back on an impressive two decades in which it consistently landed roles on big multinational investigations and high-profile monitorships.

The firm

FRA has gone from strength to strength since its launch. It has established 11 offices worldwide, worked on over a handful of the biggest FCPA cases and been involved in more than a dozen corporate monitorships. It has cemented its position as a top-choice for major law firms and companies to advise on high-profile corruption, sanctions, and bribery matters, providing forensic accounting and e-discovery expertise. The firm consists of a diverse group of professionals who between them speak over 30 different languages, including French, German and Italian, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi and Japanese.

The firm is a three-time winner of the GIR Award for Investigations Consultancy of the Year, in 2016, 2017 and 2020. The most recent award was in acknowledgement of FRA’s involvement in French aircraft manufacturer Airbus’ blockbuster US$4 billion foreign bribery settlement.

But FRA has landed roles on impressive investigations since the early days. It has helped Holocaust victims and their heirs retrieve assets stolen by Nazis prior to and during the Second World War. More recently, founding partner Frances McLeod was appointed a corporate monitor in connection with a US Department of Justice investigation, while co-founding partners Toby Duthie and Greg Mason were part of the FRA team acting for Airbus.

Washington, DC-based McLeod is a GIR Women in Investigations 2018 nominee and leads FRA’s offices in the US, while Duthie manages the company’s UK and European offices from London. The pair, alongside London-based principal Derek Patterson, are all recognised as Global Elite Thought Leaders by Who’s Who Legal in the forensic accountant category in 2020. In total, Who’s Who Legal has recognised 14 FRA professionals in various expert consultant categories, including the impressive Yousr Khalil, who leads the Paris office and was responsible for the forensic accounting and e-discovery review in the Airbus case.

Other FRA professionals of note in DC include Stacy Fresch, Jen Baskin and Dale Kitchens. Fresch is a former assistant chief accountant at the US Securities and Exchange Commission and has been appointed as an independent co-monitor in connection with a Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) enforcement action.

Baskin, a GIR Women in Investigations nominee in 2018, was the first forensic accountant assigned to the SEC’s FCPA unit in 2011, and previously was an in-house forensic accounting specialist and compliance officer at IBM. Kitchens has close to four decades of experience in forensic services and is frequently called up as an expert witness.

The DC office was strengthened by the addition of Harsh Sutaria, who joined as chief innovation officer in September, and Carol Der Garry and Britt Endemann, who both joined as partners in January 2020. Der Garry is a former associate director at the PCAOB focusing on complex accounting among other matters. Endemann co-leads the data governance, technology solutions and forensics practice in London and DC. That team was further boosted by the addition of Kevin Talbutt, who joined as a director in London in September 2020.

The London office also added Anushka Ram and Dan Yeloff in January and March 2020, respectively. Ram focuses on anti-corruption and sanctions compliance and more, while Yeloff is a data analytics specialist.

Recent events

FRA regularly plays a role on the biggest foreign bribery cases. The year 2020 was no different. FRA acted alongside Dechert, Clifford Chance, August & Debouzy, Paul Hastings and Arnold & Porter as the firms advised Airbus in connection with a multilateral bribery investigation. In January, Airbus entered an unprecedented US$4 billion resolution with the UK Serious Fraud Office, the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, the US Justice Department and the US State Department to resolve alleged bribery and export control violations.

In 2019, Swedbank hired FRA for a forensic investigation of claims made by Swedish journalists that the bank had facilitated money laundering. In March 2020, Sweden’s supervisory authority fined the bank US$380 million over anti-money laundering violations. Swedbank said any shortcomings would be remedied. It remains under investigation in the US.

McLeod currently serves as an independent monitor to German engineering firm IAV in connection with a US Justice Department resolution. The company pleaded guilty in December 2018 to conspiring to assist Volkswagen in evading US diesel emissions standards.

Network

FRA has offices in the UK, the US, Canada, France, Switzerland, Finland, and Sweden.

Clients

FRA has acted for Airbus, Swedbank, Rolls-Royce, Swedish telecommunications company Telia, French engineering company Technip, US oil and gas services company Weatherford International, and oil company Total, among many others.

Track record

FRA’s regular roles on big corruption cases, whether for e-discovery, forensic accounting or compliance consulting purposes is reflected in its track record. The firm has been involved in the bribery investigation into Telia which resulted in a first-of-its-kind settlement in 2017 with US, Dutch and Swedish authorities to resolve allegations of bribery in Uzbekistan.

It has also acted for French construction company Alstom, chemicals company Innospec, UK engineering company Rolls-Royce and French engineering company Technip.

In 2016, FRA was retained to support the independent monitor overseeing a settlement between the Justice Department and the Ferguson City Council after the DOJ uncovered a pattern of unlawful conduct by the city’s law enforcement which disproportionately affected African Americans.

Forensic Risk Alliance (FRA) is an international consultancy which works with global corporations and their counsel to identify, analyse and mitigate the risks associated with transactional compliance obligations, litigation and investigations. We are regularly hired by law firms and corporations to provide expertise on some of the world’s largest compliance matters and are consistently recommended for our ability to go the extra mile during high-stake investigations. 2019 marked our 20th anniversary as a firm – a major milestone in our story of success and growth.

Unique market position

Unlike traditional accounting firms, we operate purely in the forensic space and generally have no conflicts. As internationally recognised specialists in multi-jurisdictional investigations, we bring a high level of confidence to clients by providing clear, robust and candid advice that is trusted by clients, regulators, courts and enforcement agencies. We frequently work at the direction of counsel on global matters including complex multi-year investigations, collecting data from numerous accounting and electronic sources, analysing complex transactions and advising clients in response to regulatory inquiries and monitorships.

Client service excellence

We build strong client relationships, acting as partner, trusted advisor and thought leader. Many clients have relied on FRA for more than two decades to deliver client service excellence, subject matter expertise and global market knowledge. We have extensive cross-sector and cross-border experience and scalability anywhere in the world.

Inclusive and diverse teams

We take pride in FRA’s inclusive and diverse teams operating in our ‘one firm’ collaborative culture across disciplines and geographies. Our globally integrated teams have worked in more than 75 countries – both developed economies and emerging markets.

Our highly skilled and sophisticated team comprises forensic accountants, former investment bankers, financial and data analysts, legal and litigation support professionals, database architects, electronic discovery and collection experts, software engineers and certified computer examiners. This includes individuals who have worked for the UK Serious Fraud Office, US Securities and Exchanges Commission, and US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Data privacy and governance experts

Since the firm’s founding, we have specialised in offering customised data privacy and protection advice, and jurisdiction-specific experience (e.g., blocking statutes, banking and state secrecy laws, commercial secrecy, global privacy legislation and security risks, state sponsored and other hacking, leaks, data loss and excessive data retention).

Complex data analytics, information technology and data management are at the core of our foundation. Our data analytics team seamlessly integrates with our forensic accounting, digital forensics and eDiscovery teams to offer creative analytical and visualisation solutions tailored to client needs.

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