GIR 100 2020

Hengeler Mueller

Professional notice

The German firm has worked on investigations in 17 separate jurisdictions over the past two years and is currently relied on by large European and US companies for major white-collar cases.

The firm

Hengeler Mueller, a firm of 300 lawyers and 90 partners, built its reputation in Germany's financial sector, providing advice on corporate transactions across offices in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels and London. Fuelled by the events of the 2008 financial crisis the firm created its internal investigations, crisis management and compliance practice group.

In total, the firm has 22 partners working on white-collar matters including fraud, corruption, criminal tax, insider trading, market manipulation, sanctions and anti-money laundering.

Clients had high praise for the firm when it comes to handling large amounts of data, with one commenting that the firm was able to run an investigation like a large global firm thanks to its intelligent approach to cases.

Hengeler Mueller's core team includes partner Sven Schneider in Frankfurt, a dual German and US qualified lawyer who advised Deutsche Bank on the major US investigation into alleged Libor and Euribor manipulation.

Also in Berlin, partner Wolfgang Spoerr specialises in defending companies in investigations by US and German enforcement agencies, while partner Johanna Wirth has recently handled several complex cross-border investigations, as well as an internal investigation for a DAX 30-listed company into allegations of fraud and misleading financial disclosures. Partner Fabian Quast in Berlin has represented clients in cross-border investigations spanning Asia, US and Latin America.

In Düsseldorf, partner Vera Jungkind advises German and international companies on a range of white-collar matters but specialises in trade and data protection issues. In the same office, partner Dirk Uwer advises businesses on money laundering compliance and has worked on cross border investigations into alleged tax evasion.

The firm promoted Constantin Lauterwein in Berlin to partner in July 2020. Lauterwein has represented financial institutions in matters concerning US sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Cuba, as well as in money laundering investigations.

Recent events

Hengeler Mueller acted for technology supplier Bosch in 2019 when the company agreed to pay a €90 million fine to settle an investigation by the Stuttgart Public Prosecutor's Office into the diesel emissions scandal. Bosch manufactured and delivered 17 million engine control units that went into vehicles that were able to cheat laboratory tests for exhaust emissions.

The firm is representing a US-headquartered international financial institution and a European bank in investigations into cum-ex tax trades. Cum-ex trades are complex dividend-stripping transactions that are estimated to have cost European countries billions of euros in unpaid taxes. While many countries are investigating the trades, German authorities' probes are the most advanced. The firm is currently conducting an internal investigation into bribery allegations for a pharmaceutical company in Germany.

The firm also acts for companies under investigation by authorities outside of Germany.

Hengeler Mueller recently helped a large European company obtain a declination from a US agency that was investigating alleged historical violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The firm also conducted an internal investigation into the matter.

After Brazil's Brumadinho dam disaster in 2019, the dam's supervisor, German company TÜV SÜD, hired a Hengeler Mueller team led by partners Daniel Weiß and Fabian Quast to conduct an investigation into the tragedy. The team is being assisted by Brazil's Pinheiro Neto Advogados and Germany's Pohlmann & Company.

The firm acts for individuals too, and recently resolved a market manipulation investigation by the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) into a UK-based high frequency trader. The trader entered into a non-public settlement with the regulator at an early stage of the probe.

Network

The firm has offices in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels and London. The firm is a member of the “best friends” group of law firms that includes Slaughter and May in the UK and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek in the Netherlands. The firm has also worked closely with large US law firms on a number of cases.

Clients

Hengeler Mueller serves major banks, retail groups and manufacturing companies, including Bosch, Japanese building materials manufacturer Lixil, Japanese automotive component manufacturer Calsonic and German wholesalers Metro.

Track record

In 2017, Sven Schneider represented the UK subsidiary of Deutsche Bank in its April 2017 US$2.5 billion settlement for manipulating Libor. Deutsche Bank and its subsidiary, DB Group Services, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and agreed to pay US$775 million in criminal fines to the US Department of Justice. Deutsche Bank agreed to pay US$600 million in fines to the New York Department of Financial Services and a further US$800 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to settle the matter. The German bank also agreed to pay US$334 million to the Financial Conduct Authority to resolve UK charges.

Hengeler Mueller is an international full-service law firm with offices in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels and London. With approx. 300 lawyers, including 86 partners, the firm specialises in high-end legal advice to companies in complex business transactions and special situations. Hengeler Mueller’s clients include major domestic and foreign entities, as well as leading private equity investors and family-owned enterprises in Germany, Europe and worldwide. In 2020, Hengeler Mueller was named "Law Firm of the Year" by the renowned German publisher of legal information JUVE.

Internal Investigations, Crisis Management and Compliance

Hengeler Mueller has one of the leading compliance and investigation practices in Germany/Europe. We are involved in a number of complex compliance matters around the globe and regularly work with law enforcement and administrative authorities on behalf of our clients. We believe in providing uncompromisingly high quality and we strive for tailored solutions.

Your expert advisors for preventative compliance and crisis situations

We provide advice worldwide in all relevant legal areas of risk. Our compliance practice efficiently combines expert knowledge of lawyers in all relevant legal areas in all major industries. We assist in developing and implementing group-wide compliance programmes to reduce breaches of law and liability risks. We provide advice on governance and preventative compliance to companies and their boards. We assist our clients in avoiding and minimising any consequences under criminal, supervisory, corporate and civil law.

In crisis situations, we assist and support companies with an investigation team that acts strategically in its approach and pragmatically in the implementation. In order to avoid a ‘loss of control’, we closely and continually coordinate the investigation, cooperation and defence strategy as well as the project management and the time schedule with the relevant in-house team. We ensure an appeal-proof and independent organisational and operational structure of the investigation. In addition we act as representative on all issues to internal and external stakeholders.

Technology – eDiscovery services and tools

Efficiently analysing large volumes of data and swiftly identifying complex facts have been key elements for providing first-class legal advice for a long time. At Hengeler Mueller, one of our hallmarks is providing exactly these services through data processing and review. To that end, we have for many years been offering fully integrated eDiscovery services and project management. Based on our clients’ eDiscovery needs, we set up the best-suited team for the project, applying on-premises eDiscovery tools hosted on our own servers in Germany. We offer our clients one-stop, excellent legal advice together with optimally customised fact-finding solutions and efficient project management.

Our international approach

We make full use of a distinctive international network that covers all major jurisdictions worldwide. Our partner law firms are deeply rooted in their respective legal systems, markets and local cultures. All of them share our highly exceptional commitment to providing quality and efficiency. We bring together the lawyers and utilize the expertise that the assignment requires – no more and no less.

Hengeler Mueller is part of the Best Friends network of law firms comprising six renowned law firms across Europe.

Your added value

Through our experience in coordinating complex, multi-jurisdictional investigations with numerous advisors, authorities, claimants, courts, etc., we are familiar with and understand the priorities and the – never identical – interests of the various stakeholders. Our aim is to structure and conduct the internal investigation as smoothly and efficiently as possible and to avoid, to the extent possible, any unwanted publicity and attention. We ensure that the costs of the investigation will be kept under control and will not reach a dimension that would result in a 'second sanction' on the company. We are interested in establishing a long-term relationship with our clients in all practice areas rather than in generating shortterm profits; this principle is further promoted by our internal profit allocation which is based on a genuine lockstep system.

Recent work highlights include advising 

  • TÜV SÜD on investigation regarding the rupture of the tailing dam in Brumadinho, Brazil
  • Bosch on international investigations, court proceedings, etc. in connection with diesel emissions of VW vehicles and vehicles of numerous other automakers
  • Deutsche Bank on a number of internal and external international investigations into manipulations of reference rates (in particular, LIBOR, EURIBOR)
  • Various international banks and other market participants in respect of allegations of tax evasion in connection with structured 'cum/ex' dividend record date programmes
  • An international provider of engineering services on World Bank investigation into corruption and bidding fraud in connection with a construction project

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