GIR 100 2021

Hengeler Mueller

Hengeler Mueller

Professional notice

Hengeler Mueller has recently taken on major instructions relating to the cum-ex tax scandal for various leading German and international financial institutions.     

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.

The firm is adept at handling investigations with a large amount of data, which it manages with the help of in-house artificial intelligence tools. Clients have noticed this, praising the firm for its ability to take on document-dense investigations.

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. Schneider is listed in Who’s Who Legal: Investigations.

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.

Recent events

The firm has recently been instructed by various leading German and international financial institutions to carry out investigations into allegations of tax evasion in connection with the cum-ex tax scandal.

The firm is also acting on several bribery-related investigations in Germany and abroad. In one case, the firm is advising a German engineering company with sales in Asia and Africa in a World Bank investigation into corruption allegations.

The firm is particularly active in the health sector. It is acting for a German-based international provider of medical devices in an investigation into bribery allegations brought by a state public prosecutor, following information provided by a whistleblower. It is also representing a separate German-based international supplier of medical devices in a state prosecutor’s investigation into alleged fraud. In both cases, the firm carried out internal investigations for its clients.

Hengeler Mueller is also acting in a trade secrets case as lead counsel for a large European company. It is carrying out an internal investigation regarding several potential leaks of the company’s confidential trade and business secrets to the press.

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 Quast to conduct an investigation into the tragedy. The team is being assisted by Brazil's Pinheiro Neto Advogados and Germany's Pohlmann & Company. In January 2021, the victims of the collapse brought a putative class action lawsuit against TÜV SÜD in Germany, seeking significant damages. In response, TÜV SÜD stated that it does not believe that it is legally responsible for the collapse.

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.

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.

Network

The firm has offices in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels and London. All members of the firm’s internal investigations, crisis management and compliance practice group are located in Germany.

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 has acted for major banks, such as Deutsche Bank, retail groups and manufacturing companies, including Bosch, Japanese building materials manufacturer Lixil, Japanese automotive component manufacturer Calsonic and German wholesalers Metro.

Track record

Hengeler Mueller has a track record of acting for major German companies in high-profile cases.

The firm 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 allegedly manufactured and delivered 17 million engine control units that went into vehicles that were able to cheat laboratory tests for exhaust emissions.

In 2017, Schneider represented the UK subsidiary of Deutsche Bank in its 2017 $2.5 billion settlement with US authorities for manipulating the Libor benchmark rate. Deutsche Bank subsidiary DB Group Services pleaded guilty to wire fraud as part of the resolution. The German bank also agreed to pay $334 million to the FCA to resolve UK charges, as part of the resolution.

Hengeler Mueller is an international full-service law firm with offices in Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Brussels and London. With more than 300 lawyers, including 88 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.

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

  • GRENKE AG on internal and external investigations in connection with negative public representations by a short seller
  • Deutsche Börse AG and various other leading German and international financial institutions on internal investigations in respect of allegations of tax evasion in connection with structured "cum/ex" dividend record date transactions
  • TÜV SÜD AG on a cross-border investigation regarding the rupture of the tailing dam in Brumadinho, Brazil
  • Robert Bosch GmbH on international investigations, court proceedings, etc. in connection with diesel emissions of VW vehicles and vehicles of numerous other automakers
  • Deutsche Bank AG on a number of internal and external international investigations into manipulations of reference rates (in particular, LIBOR, EURIBOR)
  • A leading consulting firm on an internal investigation in connection with possible cases of corruption and fraud

Website: www.hengeler.com

Get unlimited access to all Global Investigations Review content