In the aftermath of the Barings and the BCCI collapses, companies are becoming more aware of the fraud horror stories that can lurk in organisations. Corporate globalisation, sophisticated telecommunications and the Internet have all contributed to making fraud more widespread. And high-profile cases are no longer confined to the realms of big business, as corporate fraud in smaller companies is also on the increase. As a result, accountants need to be aware of the law firms who can provide specialist advice in this complex area. Here, the 1999 edition of The Legal 500, the clients' guide to UK law firms, analyses the leading corporate fraud firms in London, the North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire. Research was conducted by a team of 24 legal journalists. The team interviewed law firms and clients throughout the UK between January and April 1999. The resulting tables and commentary are not intended to represent all firms that advise in this specialist area. But they are independent recommendations based on extensive research. Claimant fraud work is primarily the preserve of the larger City firms who have the resources to undertake multi-jurisdictional work, but a number of smaller, specialist practices are involved in fraud defence work. There are 15 partners and 47 assistants involved in fraud work at Allen & Overy. The firm is particularly strong on fraud relating to offshore trusts. It recently acted for the Ministry of Sound group in a secret profits claim against a former director, and continues to act for Swedish company Trustor AB in attempts to recover £36m which disappeared from its London bank account. Providing strong competition for Allen & Overy are Clifford Chance and Herbert Smith. Clifford Chance's fraud and regulatory investigations unit can draw on the expertise of nine partners and 25 assistant solicitors. Much of its work in the past year has related to infringement of financial market regulations. Nine partners belong to Herbert Smith's civil fraud group and last year the firm acted for American Endeavour Fund in the settlement of a multimillion dollar fraud claim against its former fund managers. Lovell White Durrant has an unrivalled reputation, particularly for handling fraud claims arising on liquidation. During 1998 the firm assisted Jersey lawyers advising a Jersey subsidiary of UBS in relation to foreign-exchange frauds. It acted for the liquidators of BCCI in several fraudulent trading claims, and an appeal to reinstate their claims against the Bank of England. In the second tier, Baker & McKenzie's London Commercial Fraud Group is known for its expertise in international cases involving issues such as the availability of worldwide interim relief and the penetration of offshore trusts. Five years' work on one of the largest ever fraud cases culminated in October 1998 when the trial of the Grupo Torras case began. The firm has been acting for the claimants in a claim of over $500m. Freshfields focuses on complex multijurisdictional fraud for banking, financial services and insurance industry clients, according to The Legal 500. It has been acting for Lloyd's in the Jaffray litigation and in proceedings brought by Prince Mohamad Al Saud involving the alleged embezzlement of over $200m by a former personal assistant. The civil fraud litigation team at Norton Rose was recently strengthened by the arrival of a barrister from 5 Bell Yard, and two solicitors from Slaughter and May. Clients are drawn principally from the banking and corporate finance departments. The firm's recent work includes a case involving an attempt to set aside a Bermudian trust and personal claims of up to $2.8bn. Slaughter and May's investigatory and asset tracing work, which includes corporate crime and fraud, is carried out within its litigation department. The firm is advising Hambros on all aspects of the CWS affair and continues to advise Deutsche Bank on the regulatory inquiry and litigation that ensued from problems with Morgan Grenfell Asset Management. The emphasis of Cameron McKenna's seven fee-earner fraud practice is on the financial-services sector. The firm's work includes investigating internal and external bank frauds and regular advocacy in disciplinary proceedings. Linklaters has been acting for NatWest in relation to losses of £90.5m in NatWest Markets' interest rates derivatives business. The Fraud Investigations Group at Simmons & Simmons deals with large civil actions, asset tracing/recovery and investigations. Three partners are involved and Jonathan Kelly, in particular, is recommended by The Legal 500. He was involved in the Grupo Torras case, where the firm acted for one of the defendants. Stephenson Harwood has been acting for KPMG in relation to the largest ever corporate collapse in Switzerland following a massive fraud by the chief executive. It is also representing the liquidators of BIM, seeking further recovery of misappropriated pension fund assets. In the chasing pack, Ashurst Morris Crisp is new to the table this year. The firm acted for the administrators in relation to the collapse of Barings, for one of the defendants in Grupo Torras and is involved in a fraud action brought by Sirte Oil, the Libyan state oil company. On the defendant side, The Legal 500 recommends Peters & Peters, Burton Copeland and Kingsley Napley as leading players. ^^ - Gordon McBaine is a researcher and Teresa Sandon is the London editor of The Legal 500 Copies of The Legal 500 are available from Legalease, priced at £99.00. Contact Marie Kraus on 0171 396 9313. LEADING CORPORATE FRAUD FIRMS NORTH WEST Burton Copeland, Manchester Dibb Lupton Alsop, Manchester and Liverpool Betesh Fox & Co, Manchester Pannone & Partners, Manchester WEST MIDLANDS Dibb Lupton Alsop, Birmingham Glaisyers (incorporating Adie Evans & Warner), Birmingham Edge Ellison, Birmingham George Jonas & Co, Birmingham Putsmans, Birmingham Challinors Lyon Clark, Birmingham Russell Jones & Walker, Birmingham YORKSHIRE AND THE HUMBER Dibb Lupton Alsop, Leeds and Sheffield Irwin Mitchell, Leeds and Sheffield Addleshaw Booth & Co, Leeds Eversheds, Leeds McCormicks, Leeds Ashton Morton Slack, Sheffield Keeble Hawson Moorhouse, Sheffield LONDON Allen & Overy Clifford Chance Herbert Smith Lovell White Durrant Baker & McKenzie Freshfields Norton Rose Slaughter and May Cameron McKenna Linklaters Simmons & Simmons Stephenson Harwood Ashurst Morris Crisp Denton Hall Macfarlanes Mishcon de Reya Taylor Joynson Garrett Titmuss Sainer Dechert Travers Smith Braithwaite Wilde Sapte.
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