GIR 100 2022

Niederer Kraft & Frey

Niederer Kraft & Frey

Professional notice

Swiss firm Niederer Kraft Frey is acting for corporate clients in a host of big-ticket cases, including for a Swiss trading company in a fraud case over the sale of covid-19 protective masks.

The firm

Niederer Kraft Frey (NKF) is a full-service law firm with over 100 lawyers who advise an international client base from its office in Zurich.

Partners Philipp Candreia and Juerg Bloch co-lead the firm’s investigations practice, which consists of 10 partners, eight of whom are men, and 10 associates.

New York bar-qualified Bloch made partner in 2020 and has experience acting in cross-border investigations involving both Swiss and foreign authorities. He is featured in Who’s Who Legal: Investigations and was listed in GIR’s 40 under 40 in 2020. The Zurich Bar Association appointed him co-chair of its internal investigations and compliance group in 2021.

Partner Philipp Candreia primarily represents clients in the financial industry and is currently conducting several internal investigations. He notably acted for Swiss bank BSI in 2015 when it became the first bank to sign a non-prosecution agreement with the US Justice Department as part of its Swiss bank programme.

Of counsel Peter Honegger is a veteran of the firm who has represented many Swiss and foreign companies, including UBS and car manufacturer BMW. His areas of expertise include Swiss secrecy laws, and the disclosure of evidence located in Switzerland for use in foreign proceedings.

Partner François Bianchi is another banking and white-collar lawyer at the firm who regularly represents financial institutions in proceedings before the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority.

Organisations including world football body Fifa and Swiss childcare service company Globegarden have previously called on partners Daniel Eisele and Tamir Livschitz to conduct probes into highly sensitive matters.

Recent events

The firm is known for representing big-name banking clients. In one ongoing matter, the firm represents a global investment bank in investigations by the DOJ and the Zurich Public Prosecutor’s Office into allegations that US-based individuals and businesses defrauded various financial institutions to obtain frozen assets belonging to the government of Somalia.

NKF’s investigations prowess is also clear to see by the firm being tapped to act in a recent case involving Swiss trading company Emix, which has received a lot of media attention in Switzerland and neighbouring Germany over the pricing and quality of its masks. The company allegedly sold sub-standard face masks to the Swiss military and the German government in the early months of the covid-19 pandemic. The case has caused controversy in Germany, where local media outlets have also reported that politicians helped the company win public contracts despite concerns about the quality of their products. Emix denies wrongdoing. 

Multiple other companies have recently called on the firm to look into potential misconduct. The firm is acting for a global steel manufacturer in an internal investigation into allegations of systematic harassment by its officers and directors. In 2020, NKF conducted an internal investigation for a Swiss financial institution focused on its sale of structured financial products.

It also aided Swiss childcare activities company Globegarden by conducting an investigation into alleged regulatory breaches reported in the media. The firm conducted a thorough internal investigation in 2020 that found no systematic breach of regulations by the company.

Another big case in the public eye was NKF’s representation of EFG Bank (formerly BSI Bank) together with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in investigations by US and Swiss prosecutors into whether the bank played a role in the 1MDB embezzlement scandal. The firm aided EFG Bank in their navigation of a novel non-prosecution agreement with the DOJ, coordinating the bank’s cooperation with parties in the US and Switzerland.

Network

The firm is based in Zurich and counts Swiss law firm Erni Caputo among its regional co-counsel. Others in NKF’s international network include Pillsbury Winthrop in New York, S Horowitz & Co in Tel Aviv, Arifa in Panama City and Vasslaw in Cyprus.

Clients

NKF has many banks on its client list, including EFG Bank, UBS and Credit Suisse.

Track record

NKF has a strong record of representing major Switzerland-based institutions and organisations.

The firm advised BSI Bank in its $211 million settlement with the Justice Department in 2015 – the first of over 80 Swiss banks to sign a non-prosecution agreement with the US DOJ under the Swiss bank programme, which allowed certain Swiss banks to avoid prosecution for helping US citizens evade tax if they paid a fine and agreed to cooperate with the agency.

Between 2013 and 2017, NKF represented UBS in complex litigation surrounding Italian conglomerate ILVA, which faced a variety of criminal allegations including crimes against public safety, workplace safety violations and bribing public officials.

NKF previously represented Fifa alongside US counsel Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan as US counsel as US and Swiss authorities conducted investigations into allegations of corruption by executives within the world football body. GIR reported in 2019 that Fifa had swapped out NKF for Swiss firm Bär & Karrer in the matter.

Established in 1936, Niederer Kraft Frey is a leading Swiss firm with a consistent track record of delivering excellence and innovation in Swiss law. With a strong domestic and international client base, NKF is relied on by the world’s best law firms as an experienced, agile and effective partner.

NKF is a full-service law firm with over 100 lawyers advising in 12 languages. We are pragmatic generalists with deep industry knowledge and specialist legal expertise covering the entire spectrum of business, corporate and finance law. We work creatively with each other, our partner firms and with our clients to deliver efficient, sustainable solutions in the face of the most complex problems. Quality service is our priority. The focus of our business is the business of our clients. With offices in the heart of Zurich’s banking and financial district, and, from the beginning of 2023 also in Geneva, NKF continues to have its finger on the pulse of Swiss business.

NKF’s investigations and enforcement lawyers have broad experience in conducting transnational, multi-jurisdictional internal regulatory and white-collar crime investigations as well as in defending clients in governmental investigations, enforcement proceedings by Swiss and foreign supervisory authorities, and related civil disputes.

We give strategic legal advice on sensitive matters, anti-money laundering, regulatory misconduct, employee wrongdoing, fraud prevention and detection, banking secrecy breaches, bribery and kickbacks, insider trading and market manipulation, tax evasion issues, competition law/antitrust, compliance violations, cybercrime and sanctions matters. We typically advise our clients at group general counsel, CEO and board-member level.

Apart from complex regulatory aspects, our lawyers have a profound understanding of the technical challenges and possibilities of artificial intelligence capabilities used in investigations. We maintain established professional relationships with related service providers such as forensic and cybercrime experts, accountants and auditors. We are well aware of the investigative methods used by regulators and criminal prosecutors and have excellent insight into relevant regulators, prosecutors and similar authorities.

In 2022, NKF launched "TheLab by NKF", a provider of technology-based alternative legal services. TheLab by NKF offers comprehensive third party due diligence reports for NKF's clients. These reports are fully IA-based and provide NKF's clients with all the information they need at the onboarding and ongoing monitoring stage to identify compliance risks and make informed business decisions. The Lab by NKF also serves as a state-of-the-art whistle-blower tool, which includes the most modern features available on the market.

A number of our lawyers hold distinct memberships in professional organisations such as the International Compliance Association (ICA) and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) by which they have been accredited as certified fraud examiner.

Experience includes:

  • Representing financial institutions, corporate organisations and their executives in regulatory enforcement proceedings
  • Assisting and representing in large-scale internal, cross-border, multi-jurisdictional financial services regulatory investigations.
  • Establishing compliance programmes for bribery and kick-back regulations as well as fraud prevention and detection, and employee misconduct
  • Representing corporates and individuals in insider trading and market manipulation investigations or enforcement proceedings
  • Supporting clients in connection with Swiss blocking statutes, banking secrecy, data protection issues, anti-money laundering and sanctions matters.

Website: www.nkf.ch

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