Kevin is the practice leader of Grant Thornton’s insolvency practice, the largest contentious insolvency team in the UK. Kevin has 28 years’ experience of contentious insolvency including the investigation of fraud, misfeasance, professional negligence and asset tracing across multiple jurisdictions, including the BVI, Cayman Islands, Dubai, Singapore, Switzerland, Bermuda, and Hong Kong. He is routinely appointed by lawyers, government, victims of fraud and regulatory agencies over structures that have suffered losses to trace and recover stolen funds and misappropriated assets from the perpetrators.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN INSOLVENCY?
I had just qualified in law when we were in the middle of a recession. I became aware of an opportunity in insolvency two weeks later: when all my law school mates were photocopying documents for most of the day, I found myself running a factory in receivership, producing ammunitions during the Gulf War. Nothing happened without my sign-off. It was daunting, but I think it was then I first caught the insolvency bug. I was told from the outset that insolvency was an experience-based skill. Armed with all my exams I took that with a pinch of salt, but that is the thing in insolvency: no matter how experienced you are, you learn something or face new challenges every day.
HOW HAS THE MARKET CHANGED SINCE YOU FIRST STARTED PRACTISING?
The insolvency market constantly evolves. It is completely different from when I first started practising. Services that were premium products then, have now become commoditised. The development of debt purchasing has changed creditor involvement, and the increased securitisation of assets has reduced the flexibility given to a practitioner. Increasingly sophisticated lenders now take more control of the outcome in distressed positions.
The market is now truly global. We have seen the development of contentious insolvency as a recognised discipline and the insolvency process recognised as an important tool for global asset recovery.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING ON CONTENTIOUS INSOLVENCY MATTERS?
I enjoy working closely with lawyers and recognising that powers afforded to insolvency practitioners are important tools for creating claims in insolvency cases. Establishing efficient ways to identify and prosecute claims addresses the imbalance of cases where funds have been misappropriated by those running the company. I enjoy recovering funds from those who aren’t entitled to them, or from advisers that create and implement the schemes, in order to return them to the victims they have preyed upon.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING COURT-APPOINTED RECEIVERSHIPS (CARS) TO PRESERVE AND PROTECT ASSETS IN CLAIMS?
I have always promoted the use of CARs in support of freezing orders when claims are being brought against fraudsters. It amuses me that litigants who convince the court of the lack of bona fides of their opponent, to enable a freezing order to be obtained, are often then surprised when that same opponent doesn’t comply with it. CARs are an important way of taking control: there is little value to a contempt finding when the boat or aircraft you thought was frozen is now in a different part of the world!
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR GIVING EVIDENCE IN FRAUD CASES?
WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES OF WORKING IN A PRACTICE AREA THAT IS INCREASINGLY GLOBAL IN SCOPE?
Ensuring that all matters progress, irrespective of where I am, requires a team with great strength and depth, and in that respect I am very lucky. Understanding the rules and cultures at play in many different jurisdictions is a constant challenge. For this I have had the privilege of working closely with some of the world’s leading asset recovery practitioners across many jurisdictions. Having the right advice locally is critical to an optimal outcome.
AS LEADER OF GRANT THORNTON’S INSOLVENCY PRACTICE, WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN PRIORITIES FOR THE GROUP’S DEVELOPMENT OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
To continue to evolve our service lines and geographic expertise to meet the needs of the creditors and victims we serve must be the overriding strategy. This involves providing seamless global solutions particularly across the offshore centres and emerging markets, and proactively identifying new centres favoured by those who launder money – whether by cash or crypto – to ensure we have the appropriate resource to meet those challenges.
Our work also involves providing funded solutions to those unable to meet the costs of recovering assets through both our own funding, as well as working with others. Another key priority is to continue to build our working partnerships with lawyers and practitioners across the globe.
Overall my strategy is to ultimately leave a business for my successor with greater geographical reach, a wider diversity of products and markets, and a stronger team than when I took the business over.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE?
It would be the leadership of this business at Grant Thornton. I have the pleasure of working with many of the leading global practitioners on some of the most interesting jobs. I have been challenged to develop the strategy of this truly innovative business, which continues to differentiate itself on a global stage – which is a credit to the quality and innovation of those practitioners that work within it.