Our award-winning fraud and asset recovery team specialises in pursuing cross-border, multi-jurisdictional disputes and is highly experienced in working with lawyers, public authorities and governments - both domestically and internationally - to ensure a cohesive and successful approach.
The team has particular expertise in obtaining worldwide freezing orders, search and seizure orders, worldwide asset tracing, and also advising on and investigating international bribery, corruption and money laundering. It also has significant expertise acting alongside insolvency professionals to effect recovery solutions, including advising on cross-border recognition and enforcement matters.
We are a founder member of FraudNet, an ICC endorsed network of fraud and asset recovery specialists which operates in 60 countries. Through the network, the team can engage fraud specialists and investigators anywhere in the world 24 hours a day, and can arrest identified assets before they are dissipated.
Partners Andrew Witts, James Sidwell and Alex Jay lead the team. Alex is qualified as a Certified Fraud Examiner, and is a member of the advisory council for the ACFE, one of the leading anti-fraud professional bodies operating globally.
Our team has advised on some of the most significant and high-profile international fraud and asset recovery cases.
- The Federal Republic of Brazil and the Municipality of Sao Paulo instructed the team in relation to a fraud committed by the former Mayor of Sao Paulo, Paulo Maluf; arguably the most important corruption and asset recovery case ever to be undertaken by the Federal Republic of Brazil to repatriate assets outside of Brazil.
Investigations ensued in Brazil, the British Virgin Islands, New York, Switzerland and Jersey, with proceedings ultimately issued in Jersey. The team successfully obtained judgment in the client's favour and recovered approximately US$30 million.
- The team is also helping professional trustees with claims relating to the Kingate Funds, which invested some US$1.7 billion of subscriber money into Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, widely considered to have been the largest Ponzi scheme ever uncovered.
- Our clients are defendants in three jurisdictions to claims for over US$900 million issued in the English High Court, the New York Bankruptcy Court and the Supreme Court of Bermuda. We act as lead counsel for the trustees, running the litigation in London and coordinating the litigation across all jurisdictions, supported by local counsel. The team also advises in connection with issues in other jurisdictions, including the British Virgin Islands and Monaco.
- Gowling WLG is also engaged by the joint liquidators of Stanford International Bank Limited, operating in a team of lawyers that has been acting globally since 2009 to investigate and recover assets following the £7 billion fraud perpetrated by the now convicted Allen Stanford. Various issues have been litigated in the UK courts, including a Court of Appeal decision in the Joint Liquidators' favour in connection with cross-border recognition and associated issues.
- We have also advised the Republic of the Maldives on the alleged corruption of former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. The team was appointed as lead counsel in co-ordinating anticipated criminal and civil proceedings in a number of jurisdictions, following an extensive investigation by the incoming president after the first democratic elections since 1978.
Numerous other governments, public bodies and associations, including the Governments of Malawi, Chile, Nigeria and the Ukraine choose the team. As such, it has knowledge and experience of dealing with public offices and is aware of the constraints on such bodies.
Awards, conferences and specialist speaker appointments
In 2013, Gowling WLG was shortlisted for The British Legal Awards in relation to our success in the civil case brought by the Municipality of Sao Paulo.
In 2009, our team was awarded The Financial Times Innovative Lawyer's Award for the work undertaken on behalf of the Municipality of Sao Paulo.
Andrew Witts (Chairman) and James Sidwell (partner, dispute resolution) speak at the Annual
Conference on Fraud, Asset Recovery and Cross-Border Insolvency in Sao Paulo. James also took part in the Lord Mayor of London's trade mission to Sao Paulo and presented on asset recovery in England and Jersey at a conference hosted by the British Consulate.
Alex Jay (partner, dispute resolution) speaks annually on contentious insolvency and fraud issues at our insolvency conference, one of the largest annual insolvency conferences in Europe.