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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Martin S Kenney

Martin S Kenney

Martin Kenney & Co Solicitors(PO Box 4740) Third FloorFleming HouseRoad Town, TortolaVirgin Islands, BritishVG 1110

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Martin Kenney is a “real mover and shaker in the market”, report market commentators, and he receives strong international endorsements in this year’s guide.

Questions & Answers

Martin is one of the world’s leading asset recovery lawyers, ranked by WWL as the number one asset recovery lawyer in the offshore world. Based in the British Virgin Islands, Martin is founder and managing partner of Martin Kenney & Co, Solicitors. Martin has received numerous plaudits: Wired characterised his firm as “the sharpest fraud-busters in the world”, while The Financial Times deemed him a “top international asset chaser”.

What do you enjoy most about working in fraud and asset recovery law?

The world of fraud and asset recovery is dynamic and ever-changing. No case is the same, and you are pitching your wits against some of the most accomplished criminal and legal minds. Every day is a challenge, thinking strategically is mandatory. The work can be exhausting yet rewarding.

How does Martin Kenney & Co Solicitors distinguish itself from the competition?

We have the experience and knowledge that makes a difference. I have surrounded myself with a team that has deep knowledge in a highly specialised field. We are selective about which cases we take on; we don’t take on defence work, opting to represent only those who have been wronged.

Strategy is an important aspect of asset recovery work. How do you go about deciding what approach to take for a case?

No two cases are the same; the multi-jurisdictional issues alone demand a variety of approaches. Each case has to be dealt with on its merits. I need to identify which team members will be best for the task; we need square pegs for square holes. The troops need to be assigned to the right tasks. Like a game of three-dimensional chess, out-thinking our opponent is assisted by experience.

What role are you now seeing third-party funders (TPFs) play in asset recovery-related litigation?

We have been using TPFs since 1997. They enable victims who simply no longer have money, or who are not prepared to take risks to mount a case to get justice. But it is a complex world and experience is essential, otherwise you simply fail to convince the funders that their investment will reap rewards. TPFs are the future, and we must work together to not only look after the client, but also to make a case commercially viable.

With the increased use of big data and e-discovery in asset recovery, what new skills do lawyers require to provide effective counsel to clients?

The world of big data demands an understanding of IT and software capabilities. That’s why we have individuals on the team who understand the complexities and capabilities of the systems. We are currently beta testing a new system that searches for links between banks and email addresses globally. The results are promising. Being able to illustrate the software potential to the client is sometimes essential to moving a case forward.

What particular challenges are faced when working on cases that have lasted 20 years or more?

Keeping the team motivated is a challenge. Lawyers are no different to anybody else; they are always looking towards the next new case. I don’t want them to become stale so there has to be a balance between maintaining the old cases and letting them loose on the new.

Where, in your opinion, does the future of the practice area lie?

I think TPF is an area we must develop. We need to not only educate lawyers in our field, but also to identify and formulate better, more detailed claim summaries and financial projections before tendering them to TPFs. Understandably they don’t part with their funds easily. We need to give them the confidence to invest in us.

Looking back over your career, what has been your proudest achievement to date?

A little over two years ago, the BVI was shattered by Hurricane Irma. My offices, along with people’s homes, were severely damaged; members of my team were evacuated back to the UK, the USA, etc, and the future looked grim. We lost a number of clients who understandably couldn’t wait for us to rebuild. We have rebuilt our homes and the firm. In fact, today our firm is as busy as it has ever been.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Martin Kenney is applauded by sources who note, “His success in this field is directly related to the tenacity and effectiveness of his approach while wielding arcane points of law to crack the shell of otherwise inaccessible value.” 

Questions & Answers

Martin is one of the world’s leading asset recovery lawyers, ranked by WWL as the number one asset recovery lawyer in the offshore world. Based in the British Virgin Islands, Martin is founder and managing partner of Martin Kenney & Co Solicitors. He has received numerous plaudits: Wired characterised his firm as “the sharpest fraud-busters in the world”, while The Financial Times deemed him a “top international asset chaser”.

How has the market changed since you first started practising as a fraud and asset recovery lawyer?

Over the past 29 years, the whole fraud arena has changed enormously. In 1991, recovering all the loss in a US$5 million circular cheque kite was considered a major success (and indeed was my first major case). Nowadays, our cases aggregate to tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars in assets. Some even run into the billions. Additionally, our arsenal has expanded through litigation funding and the ability to go after not only the perpetrators, but also the enablers of fraud. 

Which cases most stick in your mind and why?

It’s hard to pick just one. As at June 2020, we’re about to commence a three-month trial against TD Bank in Canada for US$4.5 billion for its alleged negligence in permitting Allen Stanford to perpetrate the world’s second-largest Ponzi scheme. In many of our cases, the victims have lost everything that they worked so hard for during their lifetimes. The gratitude and relief that they express when we recover their money is always rewarding. 

What new types of fraud are you seeing emerge and develop during the covid-19 pandemic? 

The pandemic sadly, but unsurprisingly, presents a perfect opportunity for fraudsters. Some are taking advantage of the urgent need for medical equipment and protective gear, and we have already seen an uptick in frauds involving so-called ‘furlough’ schemes, too. As a recession bites, some people – especially the most vulnerable – can all too easily become easy prey for con artists. 

 How significant will the use of litigation as an asset recovery tool be in a post-covid-19 world?

Firms like ours have always employed a robust litigation capability as part of the asset recovery strategy, and that capability will continue to be vitally important in a post-covid-19 world. Many of our cases settle without significant litigation, once the perpetrators of the fraud realise the strength of the case that we’ve built. For those cases that do go to trial, we must be very thorough and vigilant in our preparations for trial before we enter the courtroom. 

Covid-19 will likely be followed by a financial crisis. What impact will this potentially have on external funding?

The types of cases that we tackle often run for several years. Funders continue to back well ‘risk managed’ asset recovery actions, and indeed their support can be necessary. We have strong relationships with a number of litigation financiers, and they have remained committed to pursuing recovery throughout the pandemic. And, as noted previously, the pandemic has been a boon for fraudsters. Our business remains as strong as ever.

What advice can you offer on how to act effectively when pursuing cross-border assets?

Get your team right. We’ve built a set of cross-disciplinary experts – from pre-eminent lawyers to top-flight investigators, forensic accountants, data and financial analysts, and even a psychologist – to help us penetrate the bad guys’ networks. That mix is key, as is staying abreast of trends in open source investigations, the use of big data, private prosecutions and the increasing use of cryptocurrencies. 

 In which jurisdiction would you  like to develop your firm’s practice and why?

The globe is our arena. Our work is complex and highly specialised. The nature of money laundering and corruption means that we have to not only keep pace, but stay one step ahead of the asset concealment models used by the other side, wherever they choose to operate. The support of specialist networks, such as ICC FraudNet, is essential. 

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

Follow the money. Read the papers at your feet. Double the pace of your work. 

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

Asset Recovery 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Martin Kenney is applauded by sources who note, “His success in this field is directly related to the tenacity and effectiveness of his approach while wielding arcane points of law to crack the shell of otherwise inaccessible value.” 

Biography

Martin Kenney is the managing partner of Martin Kenney & Co Solicitors in the BVI. The firm's asset recovery work lies at the intersection of cross-border insolvency, creditors' rights and complex commercial litigation. WIRED magazine has named the firm among the “sharpest fraud-busters in the world”.

Leading a team of 15 lawyers, investigators and forensic accountants, Martin Kenney is regarded as a ground-breaker in the use of pre-emptive remedies, multidisciplinary teams and professional litigation funding in response to global economic crime, to uproot bank secrets and freeze hidden assets in multiple jurisdictions. He is a practising solicitor-advocate of the courts of England and Wales and the BVI, a non-practising barrister and solicitor of British Columbia, and a licensed foreign legal consultant in the state of New York.

Mr Kenney is the BVI member of ICC FraudNet, a specialist international network of 84 leading fraud and asset recovery lawyers from 71 countries, which is administered by the commercial crime services division of the International Chamber of Commerce.

OffshoreAlert of Miami said: “Martin Kenney is perhaps the best-known fraud and asset recovery attorney in the world, having worked on a number of high-profile international cases.” Mr Kenney was given the 2014 Cressey Award by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), an organisation with 85,000 members in 160 countries. The Cressey Award is the highest honour given by the ACFE for lifetime achievement in combating and detecting fraud.

Mr Kenney has been recognised by Who's Who Legal as a top offshore asset recovery lawyer since 2017 and as a Global Elite Thought Leader since 2018. He is once again featured as a Global Elite Thought Leader by Who’s Who Legal for 2020.

Investigations 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Martin Kenney is admired for his analytical approach, and his exceptional awareness of challenges facing clients when tracing assets on a global scale.

Biography

Martin Kenney is the managing partner of Martin Kenney & Co Solicitors in the BVI. The firm's asset recovery work lies at the intersection of cross-border insolvency, creditors' rights and complex commercial litigation. Wired Magazine has named the firm among the “sharpest fraud-busters in the world”.

Leading a team of 15 lawyers, investigators and forensic accountants, Martin Kenney is regarded as a groundbreaker in the use of pre-emptive remedies, multidisciplinary teams and professional litigation funding in response to global economic crime to uproot bank secrets and freeze hidden assets in multiple jurisdictions. He is a practising solicitor-advocate of the senior courts of England and Wales; and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court at the BVI, and St Vincent and the Grenadines. He is also a non-practising barrister and solicitor of British Columbia, and a licensed foreign legal consultant in the state of New York.

Mr Kenney is the BVI member of ICC FraudNet, a specialist international network of 80 leading fraud and asset recovery lawyers from 68 countries, which is administered by the Commercial Crime Services Division of the International Chamber of Commerce.

OffshoreAlert of Miami said: “Martin Kenney is perhaps the best-known fraud and asset recovery attorney in the world, having worked on a number of high-profile international cases.” Mr Kenney was given the 2014 Cressey Award by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), an organisation with 75,000 members in 160 countries. The Cressey Award is the highest honour given by the ACFE for lifetime achievement in combating and detecting fraud.

WWL Ranking: Recommended
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