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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod

Bär & Karrer LtdQuai de la Poste 12GenevaGenevaSwitzerland1211

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod gains praise as a “first-rate lawyer at the top of her profession in the asset recovery space”.

Questions & Answers

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod is a litigation lawyer who specialises in asset recovery matters, white-collar crime and international judicial assistance. Over the years, she has developed a particular interest for the investigation and prosecution of looted art and sports crimes. She regularly publishes and gives presentations on asset seizure and asset forfeiture – her fields of specialisation.

What attracted you to a career in white-collar crime and asset recovery?

The defence of plaintiffs, who could be companies defrauded by their trusted employees, victims of kleptocrat oligarchs, heirs deprived in old family conflicts, or spouses and kids despoiled after a separation. Being able to restore their broken confidence with some kind of financial compensation is always a very rewarding feeling.  

What are the main challenges currently facing those working in the investigations and asset recovery space?

Criminal investigations are long-lasting processes. It is difficult to present a positive assessment to the clients quickly. It often takes a lot of time and money to get the expected results. You therefore need endurance and complete trust and support from your clients. 

How has the market for investigations work changed since you started practising? 

Corporate criminal liability was introduced in Switzerland in 2003 but has only recently been properly applied by the authorities. This has completely changed my practice. Criminal investigations against corporations are often uncertain, but they also offer sound possibilities to find negotiated solutions for the plaintiffs’ rights to be considered. 

What impact has the growing presence of third-party funders in asset recovery cases had on the market and legal practice? 

In my criminal practice, the presence of third-party funders is very rare. I have personally never experienced it. The only case I know where the client considered third-party funding was a commercial fraud case in arbitration proceedings. The Swiss environment is generally favourable to third-party funding, but there are still few well-established players in the Swiss market.

Asset recovery work has become increasingly international due to economic globalisation. How have you adapted your practice to meet this challenge? 

By cultivating and enhancing my network of highly skilled and reliable international colleagues, with whom I know I will work efficiently and whom I can recommend to clients with my eyes shut. These colleagues can also help me find the right specialist in a jurisdiction where I have no or less connections. 

To what extent has technology transformed the undertaking of financial crime proceedings and investigations? 

We are unfortunately still very much dependent on physical documents in our relationships with the authorities. For our investigations, though, technology makes our job easier, especially when sorting through a lot of data or documents, which is very typical in asset recovery proceedings. The digitalisation of case law and legal doctrine was also a revolution if I compare it to the time when I started practising. It greatly improved the accessibility and quality of legal services. 

What is the most memorable case that you have been a part of?

Criminal trials are always very emotional. Lawyers prepare for months like athletes to give their best during the trial and to support the position of their clients. Winning cases is exceptional, but the most significant moments are the ones when you lose despite the best arguments in the world. The sense of flouted justice is hard to stand and gives the energy to continue the fight all the more strongly. 

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

Keep your mind on the objective, not on the obstacle.

WWL says

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod is renowned for the first-rate counsel she delivers to domestic and international clients on corporate finance disputes and asset recovery matters.

Questions & Answers

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod has been counsel in the white-collar crime department of Bär & Karrer Ltd since 2014. She has a great expertise in recovering proceeds of corrupted or stolen assets in her jurisdiction. She practises criminal law in Geneva but also in the state of Vaud and in Wallis. She is also very active in international legal assistance and regularly advises clients in administrative criminal law procedures (sanctions, tax and financial law). Anne Valérie Julen Berthod holds an LLM from New York University School of Law where she studied as a Fulbright fellow. She speaks French, English, Spanish and German.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career?

Probably the constant intellectual challenge: trying to understand human behaviour, facing conflict rather than avoiding it, solving problems, structuring arguments. A legal career keeps questioning your skills and knowledge. Mentally and emotionally, the pressure is huge but lawyers also enjoy a unique professional status and bear a similar responsibility towards society.

What qualities make for an effective litigator?

Being an innovative thinker with limitless (time) commitment plus good (legal) writing skills, this is central to the legal profession.

What do you enjoy most about working on such an international level?

As someone born in a small town in the middle of the Alps, I have always been eager to discover new things, meet new people and learn about other cultures and countries. An international work environment feeds my curiosity.

How have you seen administrative criminal law in Switzerland develop recently and how has it impacted the nature of work you have been handling?

As a white-collar crime lawyer, I first experienced administrative criminal law for violations by financial intermediaries of certain rules of the Swiss financial market legislation against money laundering. Such cases are prosecuted by the Federal Department of Finance, not by the regular criminal prosecuting authorities. I also experienced criminal investigations led by the Administration in tax, customs and financial/trade sanctions law.

These cases are constantly increasing. They require technical skills in very specific fields of law (tax, customs and financial) together with the experience of procedural rules based on the Federal Law on Administrative Criminal Law, the conception of which dates back to the 1960s, and which does not provide an ideal legal framework for today’s administrative criminal procedures, often very complex.

To what extent have technological developments transformed the undertaking of asset recovery proceedings?

The added value for asset recovery is certainly the ability to break down huge datasets, search through them and find the relevant documents that provide evidence of criminal activity. However, legal professionals are not (all) IT specialists and efforts need to be made to educate them in the use of these new technological tools.

How are you handling all steps of the litigation and asset recovery process in the covid-19 lockdown environment?

Covid-19’s influence was most felt in the courtrooms. Hearings postponed and deadlines extended were common practice over the last few months. Only (essential) criminal hearings took place and international cooperation in judicial matters has dramatically slowed down. The interruption of face-to-face interactions with clients has not substantially affected my practice, which mainly focuses on international disputes. Digital delivery of legal services is therefore common in my field.

What advice would you give to younger lawyers looking to specialise in asset recovery?

To a young lawyer, I would advise getting some experience in the corporate world, ideally in the financial or trust industry. Nothing is more important for the asset recovery practice than to understand how monies flow from one jurisdiction to another and/or disappear behind a non-transparent structure. Accounting knowledge is also crucial.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Asset recovery cases are generally highly confidential.

But in general, I would say devising a good trial strategy which enables, after years of investigation, the recovery of important assets stolen by fraudsters in favour of their legal owners.

I for instance very recently succeeded, together with a colleague from an associated Swiss criminal law firm, to release several tens of millions euros to the benefit of a Swiss private bank that had legitimate rights over assets blocked in Switzerland in the execution of a foreign criminal proceedings.

Global Leader

Asset Recovery 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod is renowned for the first-rate counsel she delivers to domestic and international clients on corporate finance disputes and asset recovery matters.

Biography

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod has been counsel at Bär & Karrer Ltd since 2014. Based in Geneva, she is one of the most experienced practitioners in the white-collar crime department of the firm, advising Swiss and foreign clients in complex financial crime proceedings for 14 years.

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod practises criminal law before the cantonal and the federal criminal authorities, mainly in Geneva but also in the state of Vaud and in Wallis.

She is also very active in international legal assistance and regularly advises clients in administrative criminal law (sanctions law, criminal tax investigations and looted-art investigations), with a particular interest in compliance issues related to the fight against money laundering.

Furthermore, Anne Valérie Julen Berthod frequently acts as a civil litigator in commercial and financial disputes, including debt enforcement proceedings in the asset recovery process. She has a great expertise in recovering proceeds of corrupted or stolen assets in her jurisdiction.

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod has authored numerous articles and commentaries on asset seizure and asset forfeiture. She also frequently speaks at seminars and conferences about her fields of specialisation.

In 2019, she succeeded, together with an associated Swiss law firm, to recover several tens of millions euros to the benefit of her client, a Swiss private bank that had legitimate rights over assets blocked in Switzerland in the pursuit of execution of a foreign MLAT request.

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod holds an LLM from New York University School of Law where she studied as a Fulbright fellow. She speaks French, English, Spanish and German. She is a member of the exam commission of the Geneva Bar; the Geneva and Swiss Bar Associations; the European Criminal Bar Association; the European Fraud and Compliance Lawyers; and the Women’s White Collar Defense Association.

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod has been listed among the leading Swiss practitioners for asset recovery in Who's Who Legal since 2015.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly named "Law Firm of the Year" in Switzerland by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod is highlighted for her "excellent interpersonal and negotiation skills with Swiss and foreign authorities".

Biography

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod has been advising Swiss and foreign clients in complex financial crime proceedings for 14 years.

Based in Geneva, Anne Valérie Julen Berthod also practises criminal law before the federal criminal authorities in the state of Vaud and in Wallis.

She is also very active in international legal assistance and regularly advises clients in administrative criminal law (sanctions law, criminal tax investigations and looted-art investigations), with a particular interest in compliance issues related to the fight against money laundering.

Furthermore, Anne Valérie Julen Berthod frequently acts as a civil litigator in commercial and financial disputes. She has a great expertise in recovering proceeds of corrupted or stolen assets in her jurisdiction.

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod has authored numerous articles and commentaries on asset seizure and asset forfeiture. She also frequently speaks at seminars and conferences about her fields of specialisation.

In 2019, she succeeded, together with an associated Swiss law firm, to recover several tens of millions euros to the benefit of her client, a Swiss private bank that had legitimate rights over assets blocked in Switzerland in the pursuit of execution of a foreign MLAT request.

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod holds an LLM from New York University School of Law where she studied as a Fulbright fellow. She speaks French, English, Spanish and German. She is a member of the exam commission of the Geneva Bar; the Geneva and Swiss Bar Associations; the European Criminal Bar Association; the European Fraud and Compliance Lawyers; and the Women’s White Collar Defense Association.

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod has been listed among the leading Swiss practitioners for asset recovery in Who's Who Legal since 2015.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly named "Law Firm of the Year" in Switzerland by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

National Leader

Switzerland - Asset Recovery 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod gains praise as a “first-rate lawyer at the top of her profession in the asset recovery space”.

Biography

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod has been counsel at Bär & Karrer Ltd since 2014. Based in Geneva, she is one of the most experienced practitioners in the white-collar crime department of the firm, advising Swiss and foreign clients in complex financial crime proceedings for 13 years.

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod is practising criminal law before the cantonal and the federal criminal authorities, mainly in Geneva (cantonal), Lausanne and Bern (federal), but also in the state of Vaud and in Wallis.

She is also very active in international legal assistance, in civil and criminal matters, and is regularly advising clients in administrative criminal law (sanctions law, art looted investigations, tax criminal investigations) and on compliance issues.

Furthermore, Anne Valérie Julen Berthod acts as a civil litigator in commercial and financial disputes, including debt enforcement proceedings in the asset recovery process. She has a great expertise in recovering proceeds of corruption or stolen assets in her jurisdiction.

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod is author of numerous articles and commentaries on criminal law with a focus on asset seizure and asset forfeiture. She also frequently speaks at seminars and conferences about her fields of specialisation.

In 2019, she succeeded, together with an associated Swiss law firm, to unfreeze an amount of several tens of millions of euros to the benefit of her client, a Swiss private bank, which had legitimate rights over the assets blocked in the ambit of a foreign MLAT request. She and her colleague also recovered about US$15 million in favor of a sport organisation that was the victim of mismanagement acts.

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod holds a LLM from New York University School of Law where she studied as a Fulbright fellow. She speaks French, English, Spanish and German. She is a member of the exam commission of the Geneva Bar, of the Geneva as well as the Swiss Bar Association, of the IBA, of the European Criminal Bar Association (ECBA), the European Fraud and Compliance Lawyers (EFCL) and of the Women White Collar Crime Defence Association.

Anne Valérie Julen Berthod has been listed among the leading Swiss practitioners for asset recovery in Who's Who Legal since 2015.

Bär & Karrer is a renowned Swiss law firm with more than 170 lawyers in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug. Its core business is advising clients on innovative and complex transactions and representing them in litigation, arbitration and regulatory proceedings. The firm's clients range from multinational corporations to private individuals in Switzerland and around the world.

Bär & Karrer has been repeatedly awarded Switzerland's "Law Firm of the Year" by the most prestigious international legal ranking agencies.

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