For over 15 years, Accioly has dealt with financial and capital market fraud, corporate and commercial disputes and insolvency proceedings. A member of ICC FraudNet, the world’s premier asset recovery network, he leads multidisciplinary investigation teams, forensic accountants and multi-jurisdictional coordination between top-level law firms to identify and recover valuable assets for clients. Co-leading the asset recovery sector in his law firm, he has currently more than US$1.5 billion under recovery, in complex claims that frequently involve ancillary proceedings in various jurisdictions.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A LEGAL CAREER?
I had always been fascinated by how modern societies organise themselves through the market. My interest in law came in a large part from studying law and economics papers while still studying engineering, and thus appreciating how this spontaneous order ultimately results from people entering into voluntary transactions with one another – to which the legal framework provides a foundation and the means to ensure individual rights are protected from both the government and other individuals. I then took a trainee job in a law firm that specialised in the financial markets and found myself a career.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BEING A MEMBER OF ICC FRAUDNET?
Being a part of ICC Fraudnet provides prompt availability of experts all around the globe to help pursue cases efficiently. The constant interaction between members helps everyone’s constant professional development – not only from the cases we are currently working on, but also from other members’ experiences. The consistency of the high quality of services also progressively strengthens the network’s reputation.
WHAT CONSIDERATIONS ARE NECESSARY WHEN LEADING MULTIDISCIPLINARY INVESTIGATION TEAMS TO RECOVER ASSETS?
The variables are many, but one of the main aspects to focus on is cost-efficiency. Investigations are conducted in several fronts, and can add to the bottom line very quickly. Another is knowledge of the battlefield. Keep your friends close and enemies closer: a thorough understanding of the initial sets of data on the target is crucial to orient the focus of investigations and select the necessary tools.
Multidisciplinary teams’ work will (and should) overlap, but can (though should not) be redundant. Time is equally fundamental: in principle, more and earlier information is better, but there are situations where some patience allows for significant economies. Another element that cannot be overstated is the trustworthiness of the teams and their members: an asset-tracing endeavour can sometimes be as strong as its weakest link, since some lines of investigation depend on previous results from other lines.
HOW DO YOU MANAGE COMPETING AND COMPLEX ASSET RECOVERY CLAIMS IN DIFFERENT JURISDICTIONS IN AN INVESTIGATION?
As a member of FraudNet, one has immediate access to top-tier asset recovery experts in all relevant countries, so it is simpler to devise strategies to deal with each jurisdiction’s special characteristics. Managing competing claims and interwoven investigations requires an approach analogous to production engineering, whereby you aim to optimise every stage of the process by extracting the most from wherever your case happens to touch. In one jurisdiction you will have easier access to information, in other you will have a quicker final money judgment, in another a more expedient asset seizure and foreclosure, and so on and so forth.
HOW IS THE DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY CURRENTLY IMPACTING THE NATURE OF ASSET TRACING?
Technology is morally neutral. On the one hand, recalcitrant debtors have been benefitting from technological developments that increase the opportunities to commit acts of fraud, and the information revolution has been driving down the costs of setting up complex structures. On the other hand, tools such as big data analysis software, artificial intelligence, and the ever-increasing mass of information getting stored online have also been making investigations more efficient. There is also, of course, the momentous technological breakthrough of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, which adds a lot to the drama and of which the effects in asset concealment and tracing are still starting to emerge. In that regard, a trend that I believe we will be looking at in the near future is, maybe counterintuitively, a need to complement high-tech investigative methods with less technologically advanced ones.
Another trend that goes hand in hand with technological development is that information is so readily available with the growth of the internet and social media that this instant availability seems to be influencing the demand for public UBO registries. If such a demand is satisfied, I believe asset recovery will become, ironically and considerably, more costly and time-consuming, because awareness of the publicity will only be a cause for extra layers of concealment.
WHAT QUALITIES MAKE AN EFFECTIVE ASSET RECOVERY LAWYER?
Creativity plays a major role in asset recovery. Especially in the sense of being able to think and deal with very multidisciplinary activities, conducting investigations, as well as designing and adapting strategies around multiple jurisdictions, when each can be used for different purposes. Curiosity is another important trait: it drives the pursuit of assets and the continuous learning, both of different and constantly evolving legal systems and of matters outside law with direct and indirect applicability to this type of activity. I’d also mention being passionate about dismantling fraudulent schemes and protecting what is ultimately the property rights of the creditors. On top of that, throw in all other essential qualities required to be a good lawyer in general, and you will have a great asset recovery professional.
Sources are quick to praise João Accioly, noting his "excellent knowledge of the sector and credibility with the regulatory authority".
For over 15 years, Accioly has dealt with financial and capital market fraud, corporate and commercial disputes and insolvency proceedings.
He is a founding member of Sobrosa & Accioly, a boutique law firm in Rio, with flexibility to form the best team required by each case. Prior to that, he worked at another small law firm in which he started as an intern, and partnered before graduating from law school.
A member of ICC FraudNet, the world’s premier asset recovery network, he leads multidisciplinary investigation teams, forensic accountants and multi-jurisdictional coordination between top-level law firms to identify and recover valuable assets for clients. Co-leading the asset recovery sector in his law firm, he has currently more than US$1.5 billion under recovery, in complex claims that frequently involve ancillary proceedings in various jurisdictions.
João focuses in creditor and investor protection, financial and capital markets crime and administrative violations, fraud and asset tracing, as well as legal counsel to large insolvency and bankruptcy estates, especially from the financial sector. Clients regard João as “friendly, creative and pragmatic”.
He graduated in law with full scholarship for academic performance from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, and holds a master’s degree in economics from the Brazilian Institute of Capital Markets (IBMEC-RJ), with focus on corporate governance and finance. João is also a founding member and fiscal board director for Instituto Millenium, a respected Brazilian intellectual think-tank promoting the rule of law, free markets and property rights.
A Portuguese native speaker, João is fluent in English, with good knowledge of French, Italian and Spanish.