Stéphane Bonifassi
Office:
34 boulevard Haussmann
75009
City:
Paris
Country:
France
Tel:
+33 1 84 79 41 85
Fax:
+33 1 55 32 91 98

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders Global Elite

Stéphane Bonifassi specialises in multi-jurisdictional business crime and fraud, corruption, asset recovery, forfeiture and confiscation, as well as enforcement of judgments and internal investigations. In 2018, he co-founded The International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators, a collaboration of experienced public- and private-litigation professionals and distinguished academics working with the Basel Institute on Governance to expand worldwide access to solutions in economic crime cases.

What attracted you to a legal career?

Debating and arguing the law is a good way to progress an idea and to learn. These debates, central to trials, help mould, grow and change perceptions. In litigation especially, lawyers are actors in the debate and players in a strategy game. The one who convinces the judge, through his or her debate, to accept an interpretation of the law is the winner. And, that interpretation has an impact on the law that is broader than the facts being tried in the case.

What do you enjoy most in your role?

In litigation, I enjoy assessing where a case stands, sketching out a strategy and planning how I will move the case to the most favourable position. Adapting the strategy along the way is imperative so that during the hearing – the culmination of all the hard work that goes into a case – I can focus on the argument and persuade the court to understand my client’s position. In asset recovery cases, I enjoy the chase. We’re pursuing clever people who have good lawyers, and we, for justice and restitution, must develop a strategy to defeat them with all the tools we have at our disposal. Similarly, in defending clients in white-collar cases, strategy is paramount. We must rely on the principles of the rule of law and hold tight to the presumption of innocence. Whether in pursuit or being pursued, a strong strategy prevails.

What insight have you gained from your role as president of the criminal law commission at the International Association of Lawyers?

In this role, and in my role as co-chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association, I’ve learned to appreciate and understand other legal systems. This insight, especially in asset recovery and business crime defence, gives me the capacity to anticipate others’ strategies and tactics, and know how to navigate challenges. Being part of international associations also gives me the opportunity to explain the French system to others.

What was the most challenging aspect of founding your own firm?

As with any business, when I opened Bonifassi Avocats in 2017, we had to find people who shared my passion for and skill set to take on complex cases, while providing the best service and results for our clients. In asset recovery and business crime defence, proving that a firm our size is worthy to take on the types of cases we do can be an ongoing challenge.

How has the market changed in France since you started practising?

Settlements of criminal cases didn’t exist when I first started practising in France. With this shift, compliance programmes and internal investigations emerged in the area of business crime defence. Where “big law” has the capacity to implement compliance programmes and conduct internal investigations, skilled litigators are still needed to help large law firms anticipate where a prosecutor may go in a case and to argue their clients’ cases in court. In asset recovery cases, where settlements don’t come easily, the need to go in front of a judge remains strong. So, for firms like mine that are combining asset recovery with white-collar crime – a rising trend in the US and UK that hasn’t yet taken hold in France – litigators can use and sharpen their litigation skills and differentiate themselves.

How are French enforcement authorities adapting their prosecutorial strategies, and why?

Following the adoption of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in the late 1990s, international corruption was policed solely by the USA. France didn’t like its companies being severely and repeatedly penalised by the USA, but also resisted the idea of settlements. With a backlog of cases clogging the French courts, legislators imported the practice of prosecution agreements from the USA and enacted Sapin II, allowing for settlements. While we’re seeing some companies settle, French enforcement authorities are still weak. Therefore, the US Department of Justice continues to act as the enforcement arm of these settlements.

How has the increase in third-party funding impacted your practice?

Third-party funding has accompanied the emergence of the asset recovery practice, and it has been crucial. Cases that couldn’t be brought before a judge because victims didn’t have the resources are now moving forward. Furthermore, there’s a link between arbitration and third-party funding. Arbitral awards that previously wouldn’t have been enforced now have the backing of third-party funding to obtain redress against bad-faith debtors adept at hiding their assets.

You have had an illustrious career to date. What else would you like to achieve that you have not already?

I’ve got some of the best cases, but I’m always striving for more challenges. It’s the thrill of the chase, building a strategy and defeating the strength of the creative criminal, clever prosecutor or astute law enforcement agency and finding a solution for my clients. It’s a chess game and the one who stays ahead of the rest wins.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal France - Asset Recovery

Noted by Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence 2017 as “a fantastic lawyer” recognised for his exceptional work handling both domestic and international corporate crime litigation, Stéphane Bonifassi specialises in business crime and fraud, corruption, asset recovery, forfeiture and confiscation cases, as well as transnational enforcement of judgments and internal investigations.

He draws from more than 26 years of criminal court experience to expertly interpret the civil and criminal nature of cases. He also uses litigation tools to strategically track, locate and recover misappropriated or hidden assets, which has led to his recognition as a “Most Highly Regarded Individual” and a “Thought Leader” in the areas of asset recovery and business crime defence.

Bonifassi was ranked by Chambers Europe 2017 for his work in white-collar crime. He also received Plume D’Or awards from Les Plumes De L’Economie & Du Droit in 2015 and 2016 for articles he wrote in Le Monde on international corruption and the benefits of deferred prosecution agreements to France’s legal system, respectively. He served as president of the Criminal Law Commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and is a past co-chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association.

Bonifassi serves as executive director and the exclusive French member of ICC FraudNet, the world's leading asset recovery legal network. Formerly of Lebray & Associés in Paris, he founded his firm, Bonifassi Avocats, in 2016 as a boutique law firm to serve local and international clients.

Bonifassi Avocats specialises in international litigation involving complex business crimes, with a focus on fraud, corruption and asset recovery. 

WWL says: Stéphane Bonifassi is renowned for his long-standing experience in disputes relating to complex financial crime.

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

Who's Who Legal Asset Recovery: Lawyers

Stéphane Bonifassi’s extensive criminal court experience over nearly three decades has led him to develop groundbreaking investigative strategies and tactics to find and recover misappropriated or hidden assets in multiple jurisdictions. His unique action plans, along with his knowledge of foreign laws and resourcefulness working abroad, has earned him recognition as the number-one lawyer in France for asset recovery by WWL: France 2018.

Bonifassi is a go-to authority when journalists or academics want to share insight into pending cases. For example, when French prosecutors decided to pursue UBS Group AG in a tax-fraud case, Bloomberg Markets sought Bonifassi’s perspective about France’s practice of levying small fines against banks accused of financial crimes. His clients and peers described his style to Chambers Europe 2018 as "very incisive, concise… with the ability to get on top of a complex case very quickly."

In addition to his specialisation in asset recovery, Bonifassi has excelled in cases involving business crime and fraud, corruption, forfeiture and confiscation, transnational enforcement of judgments and internal investigations. Lauded as the number-one “Thought Leader” in France for business crime defence, Bonifassi is described by WWL as “a major player” in the investigations space, with his peers noting his “world-class work handling” of financial and corporate crime matters. Moreover, his work in the area of commercial litigation is recognised, earning international acclaim for his “first-rate” advocacy work.

His firm, Bonifassi Avocats, handles international litigation, involving complex business crimes, with a focus on fraud, corruption and asset recovery.

WWL says: Stéphane Bonifassi is “the go-to lawyer in France” for business crime matters and wins high praise from sources, one of whom comments, “He takes a very pragmatic approach and gets the work done.”

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

Who's Who Legal France - Business Crime Defence & Investigations

Noted by Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence 2017 as “a fantastic lawyer” recognised for his exceptional work handling both domestic and international corporate crime litigation, Stéphane Bonifassi specialises in business crime and fraud, corruption, asset recovery, forfeiture and confiscation cases, as well as transnational enforcement of judgments and internal investigations.

He draws from more than 26 years of criminal court experience to expertly interpret the civil and criminal nature of cases. He also uses litigation tools to strategically track, locate and recover misappropriated or hidden assets, which has led to his recognition as a “Most Highly Regarded Individual” and a “Thought Leader” in the areas of asset recovery and business crime defence.

Bonifassi was ranked by Chambers Europe 2017 for his work in white-collar crime. He also received Plume D’Or awards from Les Plumes De L’Economie & Du Droit in 2015 and 2016 for articles he wrote in Le Monde on international corruption and the benefits of deferred prosecution agreements to France’s legal system, respectively. He served as president of the Criminal Law Commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and is a past co-chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association.

Bonifassi serves as executive director and the exclusive French member of ICC FraudNet, the world's leading asset recovery legal network. Formerly of Lebray & Associés in Paris, he founded his firm, Bonifassi Avocats, in 2016 as a boutique law firm to serve local and international clients.

Bonifassi Avocats specialises in international litigation involving complex business crimes, with a focus on fraud, corruption and asset recovery. 

WWL says: Stéphane Bonifassi is a leading authority on large fraud matters and corporate representations and holds a distinguished position in the French market.

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

Who's Who Legal Business Crime Defence: Individuals

Recognised by WWL as the number-one “Thought Leader” in France in business crime defence, Stéphane Bonifassi focuses his litigation experience in business crime and fraud, corruption, asset recovery, forfeiture and confiscation cases, and regularly represents individuals faced with extradition or mutual-assistance requests.

His nearly 30 years of criminal court experience directs his approach in the civil and criminal nature of cases. His understanding of foreign laws and ability to tap into resources abroad have also earned him acclaim by Chambers Europe 2018 in the white-collar crime area. Additionally, he has been recognised by WWL as the number-one lawyer in France for asset recovery.

Bonifassi co-founded The International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators, a collaboration of experienced public and private litigation professionals and distinguished academics working alongside the Basel Institute on Governance to enhance worldwide access to solutions in economic crime cases.

His written contributions have received Plume D’Or awards from Les Plumes De L’Économie & Du Droit. Two articles, written for Le Monde, focused on international corruption and on benefits of deferred prosecution agreements to France’s legal system. He remains a contributor of analysis on mitigating risks surrounding financial crime.

He served as president of the criminal law commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and was co-chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association. 

Bonifassi Avocats specialises in international litigation, involving complex business crimes, with a focus on fraud, corruption and asset recovery.

WWL says: Stéphane Bonifassi is commended for his adept handling of complex economic crime, investigations and corruption matters.

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

Stéphane Bonifassi's extensive criminal court experience over nearly 30 years, along with his knowledge of foreign laws and resourcefulness working abroad, has earned him recognition in 2018 as France’s number-one “Thought Leader” for business crime defence. He also holds the number-one spot in France for asset recovery and has been ranked by Chambers Europe 2018 in the area of white-collar crime.

Bonifassi specialises in business crime and fraud, corruption, asset recovery, forfeiture and confiscation cases, economic sanctions, transnational enforcement of judgments and internal investigations. WWL describes him as “a major player” in the investigations space, with his peers noting his “world-class work handling” of financial and corporate crime matters. Moreover, his work in commercial litigation is recognised, earning international acclaim for his “first-rate” advocacy work.

Outside the courtroom, Bonifassi is a co-founder of the International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators, a collaboration of experienced public and private litigation professionals and distinguished academics working with the Basel Institute on Governance to expand worldwide access to solutions in economic crime cases.

His written contributions are regularly recognised and some have earned him Plume d’Or awards from Les Plumes De L’Économie & Du Droit. Two articles, written for Le Monde, focused on international corruption and on the benefits of deferred prosecution agreements to France’s legal system. He continues to contribute thoughtful commentary to mitigate the risks surrounding financial crime.

Bonifassi has served as president of the criminal law commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and as a co-chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association.

Bonifassi Avocats handles international litigation, involving complex business crimes, with a focus on fraud, corruption and asset recovery.

WWL says: Stéphane Bonifassi boasts “an amazing reputation” in the international market for his top-tier white-collar crime practice.

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

Who's Who Legal France - Commercial Litigation

Noted by Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence 2017 as “a fantastic lawyer” recognised for his exceptional work handling both domestic and international corporate crime litigation, Stéphane Bonifassi specialises in business crime and fraud, corruption, asset recovery, forfeiture and confiscation cases, as well as transnational enforcement of judgments and internal investigations.

He draws from more than 26 years of criminal court experience to expertly interpret the civil and criminal nature of cases. He also uses litigation tools to strategically track, locate and recover misappropriated or hidden assets, which has led to his recognition as a “Most Highly Regarded Individual” and a “Thought Leader” in the areas of asset recovery and business crime defence.

Bonifassi was ranked by Chambers Europe 2017 for his work in white-collar crime. He also received Plume D’Or awards from Les Plumes De L’Economie & Du Droit in 2015 and 2016 for articles he wrote in Le Monde on international corruption and the benefits of deferred prosecution agreements to France’s legal system, respectively. He served as president of the Criminal Law Commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and is a past co-chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association.

Bonifassi serves as executive director and the exclusive French member of ICC FraudNet, the world's leading asset recovery legal network. Formerly of Lebray & Associés in Paris, he founded his firm, Bonifassi Avocats, in 2016 as a boutique law firm to serve local and international clients.

Bonifassi Avocats specialises in international litigation involving complex business crimes, with a focus on fraud, corruption and asset recovery. 

WWL says: Stéphane Bonifassi wins international commendations for his first-rate advocacy work and is particularly well regarded for his exceptional handling of corporate crime proceedings on both a domestic and international level.

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

Who's Who Legal Litigation: Lawyers

Stéphane Bonifassi's extensive criminal court experience over nearly 30 years, along with his knowledge of foreign laws and resourcefulness working abroad, has earned him recognition in 2018 as France’s number-one “Thought Leader” for business crime defence. He also holds the number-one spot in France for asset recovery.

Bonifassi specialises in business crime and fraud, corruption, asset recovery, forfeiture and confiscation cases, economic sanctions, transnational enforcement of judgments and internal investigations. WWL describes him as “a major player” in the investigations space, with his peers noting his “world-class work handling” of financial and corporate crime matters. Moreover, his work in commercial litigation is recognised, earning international acclaim for his “first-rate” advocacy work.

In 2018, he co-founded the International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators, a collaboration of experienced public and private litigation professionals and distinguished academics working with the Basel Institute on Governance to expand worldwide access to solutions in economic crime cases.

His written contributions are regularly recognised and some have earned him Plume d’Or awards from Les Plumes De L’Économie & Du Droit. Two articles, written for Le Monde, focused on international corruption and on the benefits of deferred prosecution agreements to France’s legal system. He continues to contribute thoughtful commentary to mitigate the risks surrounding financial crime.

Bonifassi has served as president of the criminal law commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and as a co-chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association.

Bonifassi Avocats handles international litigation, involving complex business crimes, with a focus on fraud, corruption and asset recovery.

WWL says: Stéphane Bonifassi receives high praise from sources around the world for his wealth of experience on asset recovery matters.

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

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