Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International LawThe Queen's Award for Enterpise 2012
Saverio Lembo
Office:
Quai de la Poste 12
1204
City:
Geneva
State:
Geneva
Country:
Switzerland
Tel:
+41 58 261 57 00
Fax:
+41 58 261 57 01

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Business Crime Defence

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer’s white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has extensive experience in business crime defence, asset recovery, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance and arbitration. Saverio Lembo regularly assists clients in a number of complex commercial and criminal proceedings, in international commercial and sport (CAS) arbitrations. He is frequently involved in multi-jurisdictional matters requiring methodical coordination of strategy.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN WHITE-COLLAR CRIME DEFENCE?

I have always considered that the core activity of a lawyer is litigation. I started as a civil litigator until a client asked me to file a criminal complaint for fraud. This is when I realised that there was much more action in criminal proceedings. Since this, I decided to focus my career in this area of law and extended my practice to business crime defence, which I find particularly thrilling.

HOW HAS THE BUSINESS CRIME PRACTICE AREA DEVELOPED SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR CAREER?

Full service law firms did generally not practise criminal law back in 1995. This area of law was left to boutique firms. Since then, the business crime practice has significantly evolved. Today, all major firms have white-collar crime departments of respectable size. This practice has become a must.

AS HEAD OF THE FIRM’S WHITE-COLLAR CRIME TEAM ACROSS SWITZERLAND, WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT PRIORITIES CONCERNING ITS DEVELOPMENT?

Make sure that we can service our clients everywhere in Switzerland, irrespective of the location and the language and with the same level of quality. This is crucial for maintaining a market leading white-collar crime practice.

THERE SEEMS TO BE AN EMERGING TREND IN SWITZERLAND FOR THE AUTHORITIES TO GO AFTER COMPANIES RATHER THAN INDIVIDUALS – HOW HAS THIS AFFECTED YOUR PRACTICE?

In cases like HSBC, Petrobras, 1MDB and more recently Addax, criminal authorities indeed showed a clear willingness to go after corporate entities, rather than individuals. This is understandable insofar as it is often difficult to establish the existence of an offence committed abroad. Under those circumstances, prosecutors understood that it might be more practical – and efficient – to prosecute corporate entities, which are much more sensitive to reputational risks. Therefore they are also more inclined to pay significant amounts. Companies also generally have larger financial means than individuals. We are now advising more and more companies in criminal proceedings.

TO WHAT EXTENT DOES YOUR APPROACH DIFFER WHEN DEFENDING CORPORATIONS AND INDIVIDUALS?

Companies are much more concerned about reputational risks than individuals and are often more willing to settle.

IN 2016, TAX FRAUD BECAME A PREDICATE OFFENCE TO MONEY LAUNDERING IN SWITZERLAND – HOW HAS THIS CHANGE IMPACTED THE NATURE OF CLIENT DEMANDS? DO YOU BELIEVE THIS CHANGE TO BE A PRECURSOR TO FURTHER REGULATION?

Statistics will very likely show that the fact that tax fraud became a predicate offence to money laundering has triggered more suspicious activity reports from the banks and generated more criminal proceedings. So far, I have not yet been asked to defend a client prosecuted because of a predicate offence of tax fraud, but I am convinced it is only a question of time. Some fine-tuning of regulations will probably be necessary, as the banks have some difficulties to apply the criteria for the predicate offence (threshold, double incrimination, etc.)

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER PRACTITIONERS LOOKING TO ESTABLISH A PRACTICE IN THE FIELD?

Work hard and make no compromise on the quality of your work, in particular not on the level of preparation. Show empathy and endeavour to ask yourself the right questions before proposing a strategy to your client.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Business Crime Defence: Corporates

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Saverio Lembo is highly recommended by market sources who consider him “an international specialist in white-collar crime and banking dispute resolution”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Business Crime Defence which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Business Crime Defence: Individuals

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Saverio Lembo is a widely respected figure in the market and draws high praise for his effective strategic approach.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Business Crime Defence which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Litigation: Lawyers

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Saverio Lembo leads the field in white-collar crime litigation and is renowned internationally as a star player in the field.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Litigation which can be purchased from our Shop.

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