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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Alejandro Pignataro

Alejandro Pignataro

Pignataro AbogadosPlaza Tempo Corporate CenterLobby B, 4th floorSan Rafael of EscazuSan JoséCosta Rica

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Alejandro Pignataro is a fixture of the Costa Rican asset recovery market, with over 20 years of experience advising foreign receiverships on asset tracing and recovery.

Questions & Answers

Alejandro Pignataro (LLM in American law with a concentration in international business practice from Boston University, 2003) is a partner at Pignataro Abogados (Costa Rica), a boutique corporate law firm committed to providing top-level legal advice to a select group of corporate and individual clients. Alejandro has over 20 years of experience advising foreign and national corporations, financial institutions and individuals with their business dealings in Costa Rica. Alejandro’s practice focuses mainly on corporate M&A and asset tracing and recovery.

What do you enjoy most about your work as a commercial fraud and asset tracing specialist?

Helping victims of fraud, insolvency or corruption is one of the most rewarding parts of asset recovery work. 

I also enjoy working with interdisciplinary teams of experts (fellow counsel, private investigators, forensic accountants, etc) in different parts of the world. 

Strategy plays a crucial role in this field of work, which implies navigating different legal systems, including civil and common law countries, and using the remedies available in each. This is where being a member of ICC FraudNet comes in extremely handy, as time is typically of the essence in these matters – and it provides a network of previously vetted, well-versed experts globally, who are ready to act 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

In what ways is technology disrupting corruption and money laundering efforts? 

Technology is both an ally and an enemy in the fight against corruption and money laundering. It is an ally as it serves to process large amounts of data swiftly, identify patterns through artificial intelligence and provide great tools for data mining. On the other hand, it also enables criminals via blockchain and cryptocurrencies, for example, to hide their ill-gotten proceeds, thus making it harder to trace and go after them.

How has covid-19 impacted asset recovery practice so far, and what do you think the long term ramifications of it will be? 

The sanitary crisis and the state of emergency declared by many countries worldwide has had an impact on court systems – ranging from their suspension for days and weeks, to the evolution in the use of technology (videoconference hearings, for example) as a means to continue advancing court proceedings. 

The downturn in the economy will certainly lead to a rise in the number of insolvency and bankruptcy litigation, corruption and fraud cases. 

Looking ahead, given the boost that the pandemic is having on advancing the fourth industrial revolution towards a more virtual dynamic in most activities, it seems technology will have an even more important role in investigative and tracing efforts, as more online transactions will inevitably lead to more frequent and complex internet frauds. 

What has been your most interesting case to date and why? 

All cases in asset recovery are exciting, different and interesting in their own way. 

One that I recall particularly well had to do with a fraudster who raised investor money to acquire certain assets, subsequently simulated giving them as collateral to a financial entity (with which it colluded), and had the financial entity foreclose on them for the fraudster to repurchase them thereafter, having ripped off the investors completely.

For this purpose, the fraudster put together a multilevel, multi-jurisdictional corporate structure that ended in Costa Rica. 

Our work on the matter was limited to proving that the nominee shareholders were nothing more than that, yet it led to us revealing crucial information to the overall investigation. 

What role do development agencies have in the improvement of asset recovery processes? 

The role of development agencies is very important in, among other things, advancing transparency policies for legal vehicles via each country’s implementation of ultimate beneficial-owner registries (for example, in deterring money laundering); promoting uniform insolvency and bankruptcy legislation that allows businesses to turn around or wind up quicker, and thus protect value for their creditors; and sharing best practices among nations, as well as funding training programmes for their enforcement agencies.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Alejandro Pignataro is a fixture of the Costa Rican asset recovery market, with over 20 years of experience advising foreign receiverships on asset tracing and recovery.

Questions & Answers

Alejandro Pignataro (LLM, Boston University, 2003), a partner at Lawgical, leads the asset tracing and recovery practice at the firm. He frequently serves as local counsel to receiverships and private counsel in multi-jurisdictional fraud cases. He is the local representative for ICC FraudNet.

What do you enjoy most about your work as a commercial fraud and asset tracing specialist?

Helping victims of fraud, insolvency or corruption is one of the most rewarding parts of asset recovery work. 

I also enjoy working with interdisciplinary teams of experts (fellow counsel, private investigators, forensic accountants, etc) in different parts of the world. 

Strategy plays a crucial role in this field of work, which implies navigating different legal systems, including civil and common law countries, and using the remedies available in each. This is where being a member of ICC FraudNet comes in extremely handy, as time is typically of the essence in these matters – and it provides a network of previously vetted, well-versed experts globally, who are ready to act 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

In what ways is technology disrupting corruption and money laundering efforts? 

Technology is both an ally and an enemy in the fight against corruption and money laundering. It is an ally as it serves to process large amounts of data swiftly, identify patterns through artificial intelligence and provide great tools for data mining. On the other hand, it also enables criminals via blockchain and cryptocurrencies, for example, to hide their ill-gotten proceeds, thus making it harder to trace and go after them.

How has covid-19 impacted asset recovery practice so far, and what do you think the long term ramifications of it will be? 

The sanitary crisis and the state of emergency declared by many countries worldwide has had an impact on court systems – ranging from their suspension for days and weeks, to the evolution in the use of technology (videoconference hearings, for example) as a means to continue advancing court proceedings. 

The downturn in the economy will certainly lead to a rise in the number of insolvency and bankruptcy litigation, corruption and fraud cases. 

Looking ahead, given the boost that the pandemic is having on advancing the fourth industrial revolution towards a more virtual dynamic in most activities, it seems technology will have an even more important role in investigative and tracing efforts, as more online transactions will inevitably lead to more frequent and complex internet frauds. 

What has been your most interesting case to date and why? 

All cases in asset recovery are exciting, different and interesting in their own way. 

One that I recall particularly well had to do with a fraudster who raised investor money to acquire certain assets, subsequently simulated giving them as collateral to a financial entity (with which it colluded), and had the financial entity foreclose on them for the fraudster to repurchase them thereafter, having ripped off the investors completely.

For this purpose, the fraudster put together a multilevel, multi-jurisdictional corporate structure that ended in Costa Rica. 

Our work on the matter was limited to proving that the nominee shareholders were nothing more than that, yet it led to us revealing crucial information to the overall investigation. 

How does Lawgical distinguish itself form competitors in the market? 

At Lawgical, we take pride in three main traits that define and distinguish us from our competitors in the market: a personalised boutique-style service provided by senior counsel; specialisation in areas critical to our clients’ day-to day needs; and a level of independence that allows us to be well aligned with our clients’ interests and free from conflict.

What role do development agencies have in the improvement of asset recovery processes? 

The role of development agencies is very important in, among other things, advancing transparency policies for legal vehicles via each country’s implementation of ultimate beneficial-owner registries (for example, in deterring money laundering); promoting uniform insolvency and bankruptcy legislation that allows businesses to turn around or wind up quicker, and thus protect value for their creditors; and sharing best practices among nations, as well as funding training programmes for their enforcement agencies.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Alejandro Pignataro is a leading light in the Central American market, highly proficient at representing clients in corporate and financial disputes across the region.

Questions & Answers

Alejandro Pignataro, LLM, is a partner at Lawgical (Costa Rica). His practice focuses on corporate M&A and asset tracing and recovery. He frequently serves as local counsel to foreign receiverships, liquidators, government agencies and private victims in asset tracing and recovery cases across several jurisdictions. He has been appointed as the Costa Rican member for ICC FraudNet, and he has participated as a host and a panellist at international asset tracing and recovery conferences.

Describe your career to date.

Over the course of the past 20-plus years I have served as local counsel to financial entities; local and multinational corporations; individual and institutional investors; international counsel and receiverships; and foreign government agencies, all doing business or litigating in the region. As a result, I have gained a broad legal and business understanding of my clients’ needs, allowing me to become their strategic partner. This has helped me to develop a strong team within the firm, and a broad network locally and internationally with both legal and business organisations that complement and boost my practice.

Working in different-sized firms that cater to a broad range of diverse clients has allowed me to better define what clients look for, thus enhancing my value proposition together with my team.

What do clients look for when selecting counsel for high-value litigation proceedings?

Trustworthy, resourceful, qualified counsel who will be able to provide an accurate assessment of the odds in the proceedings; strategise on both the legal and business aspects of the matter; and assemble and lead a team representing such clients

(ie, funders, expert witnesses, fellow counsel – corporate or otherwise – communications experts, etc).

On what matters have clients most frequently asked you for advice over the past year? What would you say is driving this?

Insolvency, breaches of contract, termination of foreign corporation representation and collections have been the focus of our litigation and arbitration work over the course of the past year, as a result of the Costa Rican local economy being decelerated by a major fiscal reform approved in 2018, which came into effect in 2019.

What are the benefits of the increase in third-party litigation funding in asset recovery cases for clients?

In matters where the victims have suffered a significant loss and no longer wish to put up more money to go after the perpetrators, or can no longer afford to, or where the defendant seems too powerful financially to pursue a litigation battle against, litigation funders have come to level the playing field in relation to such defendants.

The cross-border nature of the litigation and arbitration in which litigation funders are frequently involved also poses a hurdle for plaintiffs who were the victims of fraud, insolvency or corruption. Funders are usually highly resourceful and may also be of assistance in setting up the appropriate team of competent counsel and experts in the relevant jurisdictions.

What do globalisation and a more diverse global economy mean for lawyers and policymakers in the field of asset recovery?

Cross-border litigation will continue to increase, thus requiring counsel that are not only legally astute and business-savvy, but also well-connected through a strong network of specialised lawyers and other professionals worldwide who can help navigate the different jurisdictions in gathering evidence, securing assets, and pursuing the people and entities responsible.

In my particular case, ICC FraudNet has played a dominant role in the success of these types of matters.

Policymakers will need to ensure that international cooperation flows in an efficient manner, respecting due process and allowing for the parties and the authorities to act in a timely manner.

More frequent use of technology, and the speed that comes with it, will also pose a challenge as to which are the competent courts to hear a matter resulting from virtual activities and how to pursue virtual assets (eg, cryptocurrencies).

What are the greatest challenges currently facing litigators in Costa Rica?

The implementation of a new Civil Procedure Code, which came into effect in October 2018 and modified the procedural rules substantially by shortening deadlines. This implements immediacy in certain instances, as well as eliminating the appeal and leaving only the cassation recourse as an extraordinary means to challenge a verdict for high-quantum matters.

How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?

I foresee the growth and consolidation of my network with international counterparts. Technology also promises to play an important role in the practice of law; therefore, I also anticipate our firm innovating in the identification and implementation of IT solutions that will allow us to be more efficient and effective in our practice, and in our communication with our clients and other stakeholders.

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

There is always room at the top for those who are willing to work harder, and who have higher ambitions, than the average person.

Global Leader

Asset Recovery 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Alejandro Pignataro is a fixture of the Costa Rican asset recovery market, with over 20 years of experience advising foreign receiverships on asset tracing and recovery.

Biography

Alejandro Pignataro (LLM, Boston University, 2003), partner at Lawgical, leads the asset tracing and recovery practice at the firm. He frequently serves as local counsel to receiverships and private counsel in multi-jurisdictional fraud cases. He is the local representative for ICC FraudNet.
Litigation 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Alejandro Pignataro is a well-established figure in the market who is regularly engaged to represent clients in complex or high-profile corporate and financial disputes.

Biography

Alejandro Pignataro (LLM in American law with a concentration in international business practice from Boston University, 2003) is a partner at Pignataro Abogados (Costa Rica), a boutique corporate law firm committed to providing top-level legal advice to a select group of corporate and individual clients.

Alejandro has over 20 years of experience advising foreign and national corporations, financial institutions and individuals with their business dealings in Costa Rica.

Alejandro’s practice focuses mainly on corporate M&A and asset tracing and recovery.

As a corporate M&A lawyer, Alejandro advises mainly multinational corporations doing business in the Latin America and Caribbean Basin region, serving as their lead counsel, coordinating with their local counsel in each jurisdiction where they do business, via a strong network of law firms.

Mr Pignataro also frequently serves as local counsel to foreign receiverships, liquidators, government agencies and private victims, in asset tracing and recovery cases in several jurisdictions. In such matters, Alejandro directs the domestic legal proceedings, interfacing with the enforcement agencies involved. Among the most commonly executed tasks in these matters, Mr Pignataro leads local investigative efforts, gathers and secures evidence, and locates and seizes assets.

Alejandro has been the Costa Rican member for ICC Fraudnet, the world’s leading asset tracing and recovery network as per Chambers and Partners, for 10 years, and he has participated as a host and a panelist on International asset tracing and recovery conferences and events. Mr Pignataro has also been recognised by Who’s Who Legal in asset recovery and litigation for several consecutive years.

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
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