Saverio Lembo
Office:
Quai de la Poste 12
1211
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 Global Elite

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 HSBCPetrobras, 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.

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Switzerland

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer’s white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team in Geneva. He has extensive experience in business crime defence, asset recovery, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance, and arbitration. He 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.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

At the beginning of my career, when I completed a degree in both economics and law at the University of Geneva, I hesitated on whether to focus on corporate law or dispute resolution. After experience in the corporate department of a magic circle firm in London, I realised that I was much more attracted to confrontation before the courts than drafting M&A contracts or prospectuses for unsubordinated bonds issues. I then naturally oriented my career in dispute resolution matters, which also corresponds more to my personality. I first started as a civil litigator and became more and more involved in white-collar crime proceedings. I must admit that this area of law is thrilling and constitutes a significant part of my current activity, even though I still litigate before civil courts or arbitral tribunals.

HOW HAS THE MARKET FOR BUSINESS CRIME DEFENCE CHANGED SINCE YOU FIRST STARTED PRACTISING?

I still remember 10 years ago when we were discussing among partners the necessity of having a white-collar crime department in the firm. In those days, this area of law was difficult to market in large firms and was rather left to boutique firms. Times have changed: cases like Madoff and more recently FIFA and 1MDB made full-service firms realise the importance of offering services such as asset tracing and business crime defence to corporate clients or executives.

WHAT MAKES BÄR & KARRER STAND OUT FROM ITS COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

The size of our white-collar crime department is important (more than 20 lawyers). We are able to act responsively and line up business crime specialists in all linguistic regions of Switzerland (we have offices in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug). Besides, we are a fully integrated law firm, meaning for us it is a priority that the know-how circulates in all our offices.  

HOW DO YOU THINK THE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN SWISS CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY WILL SHAPE THE PRACTICES OF WHITE-COLLAR DEFENCE LAWYERS?

Important developments were triggered by the Swiss Post case back in 2016. In this decision, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court (FSC) held that the fulfilment of the necessary conditions triggering corporate liability could not be proven in cases of absence or abandonment of prosecution against individual perpetrators of an underlying offence. Accordingly, the FSC acquitted Swiss Post. In light of this decision, prosecuting authorities are no longer eager to abandon proceedings against individuals or focus their investigation exclusively on the company. On the contrary, when criminal corporate liability is at stake, prosecutors are henceforth eager to find a scapegoat and prosecute individuals in order to circumvent the hurdle of the Swiss Post case. It has thus become common practice that executives, board members or even employees of companies are prosecuted together with the company itself.   

SOURCES HAVE NOTED INCREASED COOPERATION BETWEEN PROSECUTING AUTHORITIES IN TRANSNATIONAL MATTERS. HOW DO YOU THINK THIS TREND WILL DEVELOP OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?

One can indeed observe this trend in practice. In matters such as Operation Car Wash, FIFA and 1MDB, prosecuting authorities are clearly coordinating their actions. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland confirmed this cooperation by issuing press releases. This situation should prompt defence counsel to react accordingly and coordinate their actions, in particular by making sure that the client is not punished twice for the same offence.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A SUCCESSFUL LITIGATOR?

Creativity, responsiveness, understanding the priorities of your clients, and hard work.

AS HEAD OF BÄR & KARRER’S WHITE-COLLAR CRIME GROUP, HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DEVELOP THE PRACTICE OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

There are interesting developments, in particular regarding cybercriminality. Enforcement authorities are hiring specialists so that they are ready to deal with these developments. Law firms should do the same in order to face these new challenges. Besides this, the continuous training of our lawyers is of paramount importance. Our constant preoccupation is to ensure that we are able to provide the same quality of services in all our offices. To that effect, we are regularly conducting internal seminars where we all share our experience and know-how. 

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Asset Recovery

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 recognised as “a top lawyer” according to sources, whose world-class practice sees him work on some of the most complex issues in asset recovery.

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

Who's Who Legal Asset Recovery: 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 is “insanely good” when it comes to asset-tracing matters according to sources who commend his “impressive grasp of the situation and excellent tactical assessment and recommendations”.

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

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - 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 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 renowned white-collar practitioner who sources name “a leader in the field”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland 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 wins high praise for his first-class work handling a wide range of white-collar proceedings on behalf of both corporate entities and individuals.

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: 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 a highly respected figure in the Swiss market where he boasts a great reputation as one of the leading corporate criminal lawyers in the country.

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

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Investigations

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 boasts “a very strong practice” in the field, and regularly advises Swiss and foreign clients subject to complex corporate investigations.

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

Who's Who Legal Investigations: 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 is a standout name in the corporate crime space who boasts extensive experience handling high-profile white-collar investigations.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Investigations 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 is "one of the best litigators" in the Swiss market. His is "well known in the field" and stands out among peers as "a strong opponent".

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

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Litigation

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: Top-tier litigator Saverio Lembo "really stands out as one of the best – he is a shining personality”.

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

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