Anthony has specialised in international asset recovery for over 25 years and has a number of groundbreaking cases to his name, which often involves obtaining freezing, search and disclosure orders in multiple jurisdictions at any one time. He acts for international financial organisations and corporates. He is a founding member of the Commercial Fraud Lawyers Association and the English representative of FraudNet, the ICC global network of specialist asset recovery lawyers.
What do you enjoy most about working in the asset recovery space?
The opportunity to unravel carefully constructed and complex international structures that are created by determined fraudsters to hide assets.
What did you find most challenging about entering the asset recovery market?
The fact that asset recovery is so very different from commercial litigation. While the same rules apply, the fact that you are dealing with a defendant who is unlikely to comply with them means that you have to be constantly looking for effective remedies that can be policed and enforced where there are breaches.
How do you overcome the challenge of a lack of direct evidence in asset recovery cases?
Courts recognise that evidence of wrongdoing and ownership of assets may need to be inferred as defendants distance themselves from their acts of wrongdoing and their ownership of assets. Persuading a court to draw such inferences requires the establishment of primary facts from which the court can draw them. It is therefore important to collate the necessary information (whether by means of disclosure orders, investigators, forensic experts) to enable the correct factual matrix to be built.
What effect has the rise in unexplained wealth orders and US sanctions had on the market?
The impact of sanctions has resulted in US firms acting for clients on the US sanctions list in English proceedings terminating those engagements. It is likely that unexplained wealth orders will be the subject of challenges as the principles behind them are tested to ensure they are compatible with the law.
In what ways have enforcing costs orders become more complex?
The rise of funders makes this an interesting area, in both seeking security for costs and enforcing costs orders, as there are competing interests in ensuring access to justice and seeking to protect successful defendants.
Which case has been your most memorable and why?
Most recently, we obtained a judgment for a bank on the basis that the defendant procured the misrepresentations made to it by the borrower’s employees. This was in circumstances where there was no direct documentary evidence to establish this fact. The case represented the culmination of over five years’ work planning and implementing a strategy that successfully surmounted numerous obstacles that stood in the way of the claim and the eventual judgment.
Where do you think the future of the practice area lies?
Effective international cooperation will continue to be a fundamental aspect of successful asset recovery. AI is becoming an increasingly important tool in identifying the commission and operation of fraud and the parties to be targeted; in the identification of assets; and in being able to offer cost-effective solutions.
Your career has been very distinguished so far. What would you like to achieve that you haven’t already?
The consequences of fraud are devasting for both the victim and the wider community. While intended to be part of the solution, technology risks exacerbating the problem. Continuing to drive asset recovery as part of the deterrent and contributing to the overall fight against fraud are the goals I would like to achieve.
Anthony Riem is praised as “a fighter for his clients" and "a specialist asset tracer" who is “always seeking to innovate”.
Anthony has specialised in international asset investigation and recovery for over 25 years and is recognised in Chambers, The Legal 500 and Who’s Who Legal as a leading expert in this area. In 2016, he was named as one of the five most highly regarded asset recovery lawyers in Europe. He is the English representative of Fraudnet, the ICC's global network of asset recovery specialists, founding member of the Commercial Fraud Lawyers Association and member of the Law Society working party on civil fraud.
The directories describe Anthony as a “stellar practitioner” who “navigates complex structures and transactions with ease”, a “wonderful operator with particular expertise dealing with, and against, offshore firms”, “tremendous” and “great for complicated cases” with “magnificent client handling skills” whilst being “very energetic and active in pursuing his goals”.
Anthony’s cases often involve the management and co-ordination of proceedings in several jurisdictions at any one time, and many have been high profile, ground-breaking in England and abroad and reported in the legal press. He is currently leading the international enforcement of a US$600 million judgment, having successfully defended a client in a US$100 million claim where the court found the claimant had been paid to give untrue evidence about his client.
The directories have identified PCB as a leading litigation practice, describing the team as “constantly appearing in high quality work", “simply outstanding”, “extremely skilled” and a “highly regarded litigation boutique”. The Times describe PCB as "solicitors to the banking community" and “operating across a global landscape, recovering and protecting clients’ assets over borders and through multiple jurisdictions”.