Asset Recovery 2015: Analysis

The fourth edition of Who's Who Legal: Asset Recovery selects 341 practitioners from 202 firms across 74 jurisdictions as leaders in this field of law.

Offshore law firm Appleby heads our listings with top lawyers based in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the BVI, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Walkers, Mourant Ozannes and Conyers Dill & Pearman also star as leading offshore firms in asset tracing and recovery.

Global litigation boutique Kobre & Kim delivers the full spectrum of asset recovery services across an extensive and highly effective network. Likewise, Hogan Lovells has a dedicated practice in investigations and asset recovery centred on London and supported by a truly global network.

In Florida, boutique firm Astigarraga Davis provides sophisticated fraud and asset recovery services throughout North and Latin America; Guatemalan firm Carrillo y Asociados also provides unbeatable reach and resources across Latin America.

Meanwhile, Schellenberg Wittmer is recognised for providing unrivalled asset recovery expertise in Switzerland.

The most highly regarded individuals in North America, Latin America, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Africa and the Middle East, the offshore jurisdictions, and the UK Bar are also recognised in this section.

North America
Edward Davis Jr Astigarraga Davis, Miami
Matthew Lindsay QC Rose, Calgary
Joseph Wielebinski Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr, Dallas
Christopher Redmond Husch Blackwell, Kansas City
Lincoln Caylor Bennett Jones, Toronto
Latin America
David Mizrachi Fidanque Mizrachi Davarro & Urriola, Panama City
Roberto Durrieu Figueroa Estudio Durrieu Abogados, Buenos Aires
Antenor Madruga FeldensMadruga, Brasilia
Bernardo Porras Hughes & Hughes, Montevideo
Henrique Forssell Forssell Advogados, São Paulo
Steven Philippsohn PCB Litigation, London
Stéphane Bonifassi Lebray & Associés, Paris
Keith Oliver Peters & Peters Solicitors, London
Bettina Knoetzl Wolf Theiss, Vienna
Andrew Witts Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, London
Jeff Lane Tanner De Witt Solicitors, Hong Kong
Danny Ong Rajah & Tann, Singapore
Thawat Damsa-Ard Tilleke & Gibbins International, Bangkok
John Mitchell Arnold Bloch Leibler, Sydney
Patricia-Ann Prodigalidad Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz, Taguig City
Africa and the Middle East
Babajide Ogundipe Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore, Lagos
Haggai Carmon Carmon & Carmon, Tel Aviv
Anthony Norton Nortons Inc, Sandton
Richard Briggs Hadef & Partners, Dubai
Mahmood Azam Awan Mahmood Awan & Associates, Islamabad
Martin Kenney Martin Kenney & Co Solicitors, Tortola
Stephen Baker Baker & Partners, St Helier
Peter Maynard Peter D Maynard Counsel & Attorneys, Nassau
John Greenfield Carey Olsen, St Peter Port
Colette Wilkins Walkers, Grand Cayman
UK Bar
Paul McGrath QC Essex Court Chambers, London
Sonia Tolaney QC 3 Verulam Buildings, London
Justin Fenwick QC 4 New Square, London
Paul Girolami QC Maitland Chambers, London
Philip Marshall QC Serle Court, London

Appleby once again takes the top spot, with nine individuals from five different jurisdictions listed. In the Cayman Islands, Jeremy Walton specialises in asset tracing and recovery work and is considered an “esteemed” figure in the market. His recent experience includes acting for Maan Al-Sanea in a high profile multibillion-dollar fraud claim, which is currently the largest piece of litigation in the Grand Court (Financial Services Division) of the Cayman Islands. Andrew Bolton boasts an “impressive” practice in which he acts for a variety of clients in matters relating to contentious insolvency and fraud. Christopher Russell is an “eminent” lawyer who remains “in high demand” thanks to his wide-ranging experience in this field. He has been involved in a number of high-profile cases including Brunei Investment Agency v Prince Jefri Bolkiah.

A trio of lawyers are recognised from the Bermuda office, including the “exceptional” John Wasty who is praised for his “first-class litigation skills”. Of counsel Kelvin Hastings-Smith is a “dean of the Bermudan bar” and boasts decades of experience in fraud litigation. John Riihiluoma is known for his “commitment and professionalism” and comes highly recommended by clients and peers.

In the BVI, Andrew Willins “stands out” for his work in this field and appears regularly before the High Court of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. He has recently appeared on behalf of Congo Mineral Developments in its US$2 billion claim relating to the expropriation of mining rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Isle of Man-based Mark Holligon is an “extremely accomplished” practitioner. His expertise covers freezing orders, ancillary relief and general civil fraud matters.

Fraser Robertson is group head of the dispute resolution department in Jersey and is a “trusted adviser” to a number of companies and individuals in the asset recovery market. His client base includes trust companies that require his expertise in trust disputes involving money-laundering issues.

Kobre & Kim performs strongly in our research and garners eight inclusions this year. In New York, co-founder Michael Kim is the “first port of call” for high-stakes financial disputes and international judgment enforcement. His “big-name clients” include the likes of ConocoPhillips and Chevron. Marcus Green is a “major player in the US market” and focuses his practice on judgment enforcement, international asset investigations and recovery.

Caribbean and London-based James Corbett QC “simply excels” at cross-border litigation and regularly advises on and appears in cases throughout the Caribbean involving trusts, bank secrecy, asset protection and recovery. His recent engagements include representing a government in enforcing judgments of more than US$120 million against assets and defendants in multiple jurisdictions around the world.

Tim Prudhoe is a “star” in the BVI office with a combination of onshore and offshore trial experience. He has particular expertise in matters involving the BVI, Turks and Caicos Islands and Bermuda.

In the Cayman Islands Rebecca Hume advises clients in disputes involving the insurance and financial services industries. She is lauded for her “industry know-how” and frequently works on international judgment enforcement and asset recovery matters.

Randall Arthur is “front and centre” of the Hong Kong market and boasts extensive expertise in the identification and freezing of assets in Hong Kong. His recent work includes representing several defendants in proceedings to enforce a US and UK judgment of $2 billion against the defendants in Hong Kong involving issues of jurisdiction and allegations of fraud and misappropriation of assets. 

Six nominees from Walkers are selected for this edition, including the “fabulous” Colette Wilkins. She “commands great respect” from peers thanks to her experience in fraud and liquidation issues and is one of our most highly regarded individuals this year. Neil Lupton is “formidably intelligent and skilful” and has excellent credentials in the corporate recovery sphere. Nick Dunne is a “regular” on the asset recovery scene and appears before the Grand Court and the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal in various fraud matters.

Managing partner of the firm’s BVI office Sandie Corbett is an “outstanding advocate” with wide-ranging litigation experience. She is considered a “real asset to all her clients”.

Hogan Lovells earns five inclusions. In London, Chris Hardman is “much admired as an adversary”. He has particular expertise in Russian/CIS disputes and had a leading role in the high-profile BTA Bank litigation. Cary Kochberg is a “leading light” in the field and specialises in cross-border disputes involving civil fraud matters. His clients include BTA Bank and the liquidators of BCCI on various fraud and asset tracing claims. Crispin Rapinet co-heads the firm’s investigations, white-collar and fraud practice area and is well versed in fraud and asset recovery proceedings. His representative experience includes undertaking an internal fraud investigation in order to satisfy the Swedish Stock Exchange regarding allegations concerning the UK subsidiary of a company listed in Stockholm. Jeremy Cole in London and Chris Dobby in Hong Kong are also recommended this year.

Guatemalan firm Carrillo y Asociados is a revered name in Latin America and has five nominees featured this year. Alfonso Carrillo is “of the highest calibre” and comes highly recommended by both peers and clients. Rodrigo Callejas focuses on financial fraud and asset recovery and has participated in a number of investigations involving both local and foreign authorities. Sources note his “incredible skills” in the field. Francisco Chávez is a “huge name” in the market and considered “one of the finest litigators in town”. His clients include major corporations, financial institutions and governments. Andrés Hernández and Joaquín Alvarado also score highly.

In Florida, boutique firm Astigarraga Davis is home to five leading individuals including Edward Davis Jr, who is considered “one of the best lawyers in the world”. Davis focuses his practice on the representation of individual, corporate and institutional victims of fraud, he is noted for his “phenomenal repertoire” in the field. Annette Escobar is renowned for her experience in Latin American-focused disputes and commended for her “practical and strategic advice”. Arnoldo Lacayo specialises in financial fraud and asset recovery and is praised for his “great talent”, having litigated a number of complex disputes in both state and federal court. Cristina Suárez uses her “superb knowledge” to aid her international client base and concentrates on pursuing assets on behalf of defrauded clients. Rafael Valdes is reputed for his “strong intellect” and is similarly highly regarded in the market.

Middle Eastern firm Al Tamimi & Company also sees five of its practitioners selected. Essam Al Tamimi is “extremely skilled” in this market and boasts a “world-class” dispute resolution practice encompassing both litigation and arbitration. Hassan Arab is a “gifted litigator” whom sources “cannot recommend highly enough”. Qatar-based Hani Al Naddaf is “greatly admired” for his wide-ranging practice encompassing debt recovery matters among others.

Schellenberg Wittmer garners four inclusions attesting to its leading reputation in the Swiss market. Paul Gully-Hart heads the white-collar crime and compliance group and is considered an “authoritative figure” on regulatory and compliance issues as well as asset-tracing and international mutual assistance. Managing partner Benjamin Borsodi is also a “high-flyer” in the field, whose “strategic mind and impeccable knowledge” make him highly sought after by many clients. In Zurich Martin Bernet has built a “remarkable practice” covering a broad range of issues including enforcement of foreign judgments and asset recovery. Peter Burckhardt comes highly recommended for his “top-tier” practice in which he assists victims of crime in tracing and freezing exercises.

Four practitioners from offshore firm Mourant Ozannes are featured this year, including the “fantastic” Simon Dickson in the Cayman Islands. His recent experience includes acting for the liquidators of the Harley Fund in relation to its winding-up, which was heavily impacted by the Madoff fraud. He is noted for his “technical brilliance”. In Guernsey Jeremy Wessels is one of the “go-to practitioners” for asset tracing and freezing orders.

At Conyers Dill & Pearman, Nigel Meeson QC boasts a “highly sophisticated” practice and “always delivers” according to our sources. His experience includes representing VTB PLC in the Cayman aspects of multi-jurisdictional worldwide freezing orders. BVI-based Richard Evans is experienced in obtaining and securing the enforcement of all forms of urgent interim relief and garners universal praise for his “astute legal mind”. Mark Forte at the same office and Narinder Hargun in Bermuda are also “highly rated” this year.

Matthew Lindsay QC in Calgary is “top counsel” for many Canadian clients. Based at the law firm Rose, he has appeared before all trial and appellate courts across Western Canada, the Federal Court of Canada and in the US State and Federal courts. His representative experience includes obtaining, defending and administering preservation orders over $100 million of Alberta commercial properties for an interim receiver as part of a worldwide multi-jurisdictional asset recovery plan.

Toronto-based Lincoln Caylor practises at Bennett Jones and is considered a “sensational” practitioner. He boasts vast experience in recovery issues relating to fraud and manages all aspects of investigative and enforcement actions. Munaf Mohamed also enjoys an “excellent reputation” in the civil fraud market and co-chairs the firm’s fraud law practice.

At Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr in Dallas, Joseph Wielebinski boasts a “truly prestigious” practice representing victims in matters involving complex financial fraud, theft and money laundering. He “commands great respect worldwide” and features in our most highly regarded list this year. He is joined by Dennis Roossien Jr who similarly “excels” in this field.

In Kansas City, Husch Blackwell’s Christopher Redmond is the “go-to guy” for the pursuit of assets transferred to offshore jurisdictions. He is lauded for “consistently providing the highest quality of advice”.

The Latin American region also features a number of “world-class” asset recovery experts. At Mizrachi Davarro & Urriola in Panama City, senior partner David Mizrachi Fidanque is “always on the ball” and is praised for his “solutions-oriented approach”. Miguel Urriola Maylin is a civil fraud “specialist” and is seen as a leading lawyer in matters involving money laundering.

Estudio Durrieu Abogados is home to the “pre-eminent” Roberto Durrieu Figueroa who is experienced in a wide spectrum of civil fraud matters. He is rated for his “well informed advice” and “responsiveness”. Justo Lo Prete is considered a “guru” in the telecommunications industry, from which the vast bulk of his clients originate.

FeldensMadruga’s Antenor Madruga is “internationally renowned” for his work in this sector and provides “exceptional handling” of complex cases.

Henrique Forssell at Forssell Advogados is “at the cutting-edge of asset recovery” according to our sources. His “quick grasp of complex issues” makes him a firm favourite among clients.

In Montevideo Bernardo Porras at Hughes & Hughes is a “distinguished player” who remains “top choice” for many clients in the Latin American region. Colleague Alfredo Taullard is also known for his “thorough understanding” of the complexities of asset recovery matters.

Specialist firm PCB Litigation is home to a trio of “outstanding” lawyers including the “world-class” Steven Philippsohn. His “huge knowledge base” is welcomed by clients across the globe and he acts for state enterprises, financial institutions and other organisations worldwide. Anthony Riem is a “great tactician” known for his “pragmatism and creativity” in obtaining disclosure and freezing orders. He is also experienced in executing and supervising search orders. Trevor Mascarenhas acts for both claimants and defendants in a variety of industries including banking, mining, oil and gas and telecommunications.

At Lebray & Associés Stéphane Bonifassi is marked as a “dean of the Parisian bar”. He is “highly proficient” in asset recovery matters and represents both individuals and companies in complex cases.

Peters & Peters Solicitors is a leading London-based firm which has three of its practitioners featured in this edition. Keith Oliver specialises in the location, freezing and recovery of misappropriated assets involving emergency relief procedures and is considered a “major player” in the market. He possesses “great flair” and “sharp intellect” according to our sources. Jonathan Tickner is “highly sought after” for his experience in dealing with asset freezing and search and seizure orders while Sarah Gabriel also enjoys a “stellar reputation” in the market.

Wolf Theiss’ Bettina Knoetzl focuses her practice on the financial services and life sciences industries and boasts an “impressive record” in business crime and civil fraud matters.

Andrew Witts at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co “continues to impress” our sources with his active practice advising clients on complex fraud and asset recovery cases. He has been involved in a number of high-profile fraud matters including acting for Deloitte as the Cayman liquidators of BCCI following its collapse and subsequent litigation. Alex Jay and Emma Jordan are also “very accomplished” in the field.

Tanner De Witt Solicitors’ Jeff Lane specialises in corporate fraud and asset tracing. His “hands-on approach” and “calm demeanour” make him much in demand for Asia-Pacific clients. Ian De Witt is a “leading authority” in Hong Kong and is praised for his “excellent attention to detail”.

Danny Ong at Rajah & Tann is “one of the best in Singapore”. He advises and represents international financial and other institutions in the investigation and prosecution of corporate fraud claims and the recovery and tracing of assets globally.

Thawat Damsa-ard at Tilleke & Gibbins International is a “leading light” in Thailand and “truly excels” in the litigation sphere. He is sought after thanks to his “strategic approach” in complex international disputes. John King is similarly a “trusted counsel” for a number of multinational companies.

Arnold Bloch Leibler’s John Mitchell acts for both individuals and corporations in fraud and related matters and is praised for his “quick grasp of complex issues”. Leon Zwier is also highly rated for his corporate recovery practice.

In the Philippines at Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz, Patricia-Ann Prodigalidad is a “font of knowledge” on the complexities of asset tracing and recovery and is “among the top players in the Asia-Pacific region”. She is joined by colleagues Ana Teresa Arnaldo-Oracion and Emerico De Guzman.

Lagos-based Babajide Ogundipe is a “star” at Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore and is noted for his “prowess” in the civil fraud sphere.

Haggai Carmon at Carmon & Carmon is “widely recognised” in Israel and abroad thanks to his “top-notch skills” in asset recovery.

Nortons Inc’s Anthony Norton “always delivers the very highest quality of advice” and counts Anglo American, Absa Bank and Pearson among his “impressive roster of clients”. John Oxenham also boasts a “very active” white-collar crime and fraud practice, in which he represents various clients throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Richard Briggs at Hadef & Partners “inspires great confidence” from his clients, thanks to his “accessibility and no-nonsense approach”.

Mahmood Azam Awan is a “real specialist” in the Pakistani market and specialises in the recovery of assets for victims of civil and financial fraud.

A number of individuals stand out in the offshore world for their asset recovery expertise. At his own firm in the BVI, Martin Kenney is a “widely acclaimed” practitioner with a wealth of expertise in multi-jurisdictional economic crime and fraud. He is regaled as a “dedicated professional” in the tracing area. Head of litigation Dan Wise is an “expert” in the field of fraud in the commodities market and is “well versed” in disclosure and freezing order issues.

Jersey-based Stephen Baker is a “famous name” in the market and undertakes a variety of cases with a Jersey element. His experience includes acting for the Federal Republic of Brazil in its first substantial asset recovery actions outside of the territory.

In the Bahamas Peter Maynard, at his own firm, is “revered” for his capabilities and boasts decades of experience. He is considered “in a class of his own” by our sources, and is joined by Jason Maynard who is also “greatly admired” at the Bahamian bar.

Carey Olsen’s John Greenfield is managing partner of the firm’s Guernsey office and is praised for his “finely tuned skills” in asset tracing and multi-jurisdictional disputes. Karen Le Cras also has vast advocacy experience before the Guernsey courts.

At the UK Bar, a number of sets stand out for their expertise in this field. Essex Court Chambers is home to five outstanding barristers, including Paul McGrath QC, who is also one of our most highly regarded individuals this year. His commercial/chancery practice encompasses freezing and disclosure orders, asset tracing and recovery. He is “internationally renowned” for his experience and has appeared in a number of the most high-profile and heavyweight cases in recent years. Richard Millett QC is a “bona fide expert” on offshore work and appears frequently in the courts of the BVI, Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Nevis, the Seychelles and the Isle of Man. Paul Stanley QC is a “tremendously effective” advocate who specialises in complex civil fraud cases including obtaining and enforcing interim remedies and in jurisdictional issues. Joe Smouha QC and Stephen Auld QC complete the Essex Court contingent.

3 Verulam Buildings also garners five listings this year. Sonia Tolaney QC is a “top-flight practitioner”. She “knows all there is to know” about the field and has acted in some of the most high-profile disputes in recent years. Ali Malek QC is the “first port of call” for clients requiring experience in Russian/CIS-related litigation. He handles large-scale fraud disputes and enjoys a “stellar reputation” in the market. The “eminent” Ewan McQuater QC is a “formidable presence in the courtroom” according to his opponents. His experience encompasses asset-freezing, disclosure and cross-examination.

Justin Fenwick QC at 4 New Square specialises in offshore and onshore fraud cases and is described as a “fearsome opponent”. His recent casework includes acting for the liquidator of a Caribbean bank in claims for restitution and tracing remedies brought by depositors in Bermuda and the Privy Council (Horizon Bank v Walsh and Taal). Door tenant Claire Robey is based in the BVI and is considered a “heavyweight litigator” in this sector.

Maitland Chambers’ Paul Girolami QC is “well versed” in civil fraud and corporate recovery matters. Clients “would not hesitate to recommend him” for cases involving worldwide freezing and search and seizure orders and following and recovering assets, thanks to his experience in this field. Richard Morgan QC is a “great operator” and has significant experience both applying for and opposing the grant of freezing orders and other interim relief. Anthony Trace QC has been involved in a number of leading cases, including Lehman Brothers and Ablyazov.

Philip Marshall QC at Serle Court is an “incredibly talented” barrister and boasts a successful international fraud practice. He regularly acts in overseas jurisdictions including the BVI, Bermuda and Hong Kong. Hugh Norbury QC is also an “extremely capable” advocate who shows “tremendous understanding” of the rules and regulations surrounding freezing injunctions and disclosure orders.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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