Navacelle is a go-to firm for international investigations and white-collar defence matters with a French nexus and probes by the national financial prosecutor.
Founded in 2010, Navacelle is a Paris-based firm focusing on investigations and compliance, white-collar defence and dispute resolution. Founder Stéphane de Navacelle set up the specialist practice at a time in France when the concept of internal investigations was generally disregarded by the local legal market and often treated with suspicion. The country’s enforcement efforts have developed in leaps and bounds since then, with Navacelle continuing to be among the top picks for companies and individuals facing probes with a French element.
De Navacelle has over 15 years’ experience in investigations in France and abroad, focusing on criminal law, regulatory matters, internal investigations, compliance and other complex litigation. In addition to representing individuals, he advises companies on how to implement compliance programmes, acts as a compliance monitor in World Bank resolutions, and serves as a board member of the Paris Bar’s ethics committee and disciplinary review board. Prior to founding the firm, Navacelle practised corporate litigation in New York and London for firms including Debevoise & Plimpton. De Navacelle is listed in Who’s Who Legal: Investigations and is also a Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence nominee.
He is joined by partner Julie Zorrilla, who works on complex cross-border financial and criminal matters. She represents sovereign states, financial institutions and senior executives facing anti-corruption, money laundering, fraud and asset recovery enforcement actions. Zorrilla was included in GIR’s 2021 Women in Investigations survey.
Most of Navacelle’s work is confidential, but the firm has particular expertise in defending senior executives in international cases that also draw the attention of the National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (PNF).
Examples include its representation of a chief compliance officer of a European aerospace company as the business faced investigations by US, UK and French authorities. The individual avoided prosecution.
In another matter investigated by these authorities, Navacelle represents a senior executive at a French oil and gas company suspected of international corruption.
Others it has acted for include a former employee of a major bank under investigation for alleged tax fraud and illegal banking practices who ultimately avoided prosecution; a Malaysian financier accused of taking part in a wide-scale money laundering and corruption scheme; and former Deutsche Bank trader Cédric Chanu, who was sentenced to a year in prison in the US in 2021 after a jury found him guilty of manipulating precious metals markets.
In another significant cross-border case, Navacelle lawyers are representing an international telecommunications company accused of bribery and violating international and EU sanctions, in a matter that spans France, Iran, the UAE and the US.
The firm is assisting a large Canadian private security services company under investigation by the PNF for allegedly bribing public officials in Somalia. The probe sprung from a complaint by an alleged victim and an investigation by the European Anti-Fraud Office.
In addition, companies also rely on Navacelle for internal investigations into potential misconduct. The firm, alongside Covington & Burling, is looking into allegations of fraud in France and Italy for an ophthalmic product company.
Navacelle operates from its office in Paris but has strong working relationships with law firms around the globe.
Navacelle works for global companies, financial institutions and senior executives accused of corporate misconduct.
Navacelle has helped several bankers avoid prosecution in France. It acted for a former executive at a Swiss bank. The client avoided prosecution in relation to a preliminary tax fraud investigation by the PNF. The agency ultimately dropped the case. It also helped an executive at a French bank avoid prosecution by French and UK authorities over alleged undisclosed conflicts of interest.
The firm also represented an online trading platform in a probe by a French investigating magistrate, who was looking into allegations of fraud and illegal financial solicitation. Navacelle acted with Hughes Hubbard & Reed in the case. The client ultimately avoided a criminal conviction.
GIR previously reported that the firm represented Société Générale’s former head of fixed income and treasuries, Danielle Sindzingre, whom the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged in 2017 for an alleged role in a scheme to manipulate the Libor benchmark rate. The French lender entered into a $750 million deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ in 2018 over the matter.
Navacelle is a white-collar crime, compliance, global and international investigation, regulatory defense, arbitration and complex litigation firm based in Paris since 2010.
The team advises and assists boards, committees and management facing tough calls while setting up and assessing the validity of compliance programs and codes of ethics. In addition to legal liability, the firm advises on issues of conflicts of interests, independence, reporting and transparency - including reputational risk. Navacelle carries out investigations aimed at assessing the appropriateness of systems and controls in place and offer training tailored to clients’ needs.
Navacelle provides sophisticated thinking in matters involving high-risk, high liability for corporations and individual employees. Our lawyers have experience preparing for and assisting clients at custodial interviews by investigators from the French police, the French financial market authority as well as before US and UK authorities and regulators. The firm also works with clients to prepare for trial and be advocates of facts and law with judges and prosecutors up to and during trial.
Navacelle also represents clients against multi-jurisdictional criminal prosecutions, civil and administrative enforcement authorities, tackling parallel investigations, criminal judicial cooperation, protection of individuals’ rights and handling of evidence. The team’s combined experience includes recent landmark corruption (US FCPA, UK BA, Sapin II), embargo, LIBOR/Euribor, SSA, Forex, market abuses (e.g., insider trading) and tax investigations carried out by multiple authorities.
Navacelle handles extradition matters for French and foreign nationals dealing with both requests by foreign authorities and French judicial authorities, including European Arrest Warrants and International Arrest Warrants. The firm assists both individuals and states in challenging or supporting Red Notice issuance before the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF).
Navacelle advises and assists French and foreign clients to recover assets in France in case of fraud, misappropriation of assets or unpaid debts. It handles enforcement of judicial decisions or arbitral awards and secures claims through proceedings aiming at obtaining the freezing, seizure or realization of assets. Navacelle also advises its foreign clients to handle the consequences of French proceedings on their assets.
Navacelle assists clients in multiple sectors such as Banking & Finance, Construction & Engineering, Energy & Natural Resources, Health Care & Life Sciences, Industrials & Manufacturing, Public Institutions, Security, Technology, Media & Telecommunications and Transportation.
The team publishes or participates regularly in White collar publications and trainings, like recently:
- Addressing corruption allegations in international commercial arbitration and investment arbitration (October 2022) – International Bar Association
- Jurisdiction and powers of international arbitral tribunals when dealing with allegations of corruption (October 2022) – International Bar Association
- The Guide to Sanctions 2022 – GIR
- Practitioner’s Guide to Global Investigations 2022 – GIR
- The post-Sapin 2 law: merely modifications or a real revolution? (April 2022) – Compliances Magazine
- Corporate criminal liability under French law, a decade of dramatic change (April 2022) – Journal of Japanese Institute of International Business Law
- When arbitration and compliance meet up: analysis of their first interplay (March 2022) – International Bar Association
- Statement in defense of the principle of lawyer-client confidentiality (January 2022) – International Bar Association
- International Legal Developments 2021 in Review – American Bar Association
- Bastille Day Newsletter – Navacelle