Saverio Lembo
Office:
Quai de la Poste 12
1211
City:
Geneva
State:
Geneva
Country:
Switzerland
Tel:
+41 58 261 57 00
Fax:
+41 58 261 57 01

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders Global Elite

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer’s white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003. He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings; has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations; and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings.

On what types of matters are clients most frequently coming to you at present?

Clients come to us on various dispute resolution matters. First, of course, they come on white-collar crime matters such as money laundering, corruption, blocking statute, dawn raids from authorities, mismanagement, disloyal competition, cybercriminality, fraud related to art law, etc. Clients also ask us to act for them in civil disputes such as tort law (liability of banks further to unlawful acts), liability claims within the ambit of insolvency proceedings or estate litigations with international aspects. In addition, we represent international corporate clients in commercial arbitrations. Last but not least, we regularly act in sports proceedings (white-collar crime, litigation and arbitration), in particular, football matters.

Questions over the primacy of professional privilege and transparency have been raised in recent months. What is the situation in Switzerland?

Professional privilege is a notion that is subject to change over time, in particular when it relates to combating money laundering or terrorism. In this respect, there is a clear trend on the international scene for narrowing down the scope of legal professional privilege, at least for the activities that do not concern pure representation in court.

EU countries have already adopted important changes in line with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations. The EU directive 2015/849 of 20 May 2015 completely follows the FATF’s approach. Each and every EU country had to transpose this directive into its domestic law. All major European countries, including Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain, integrated the FATF’s standards and thus limited the scope of lawyer’s activities enjoying the legal professional privilege. Switzerland is currently working on a revision of its Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) in order to comply with FATF’s recommendations. However, to date, Switzerland remains an exception in the European landscape. This being said, the issues raised by the modifications contained in the project caused significant concern in the legal community and have been criticised. To date, when a lawyer provides legal advice, he or she is protected by privilege, provided that he or she does not act as financial intermediary. This will no longer be the case when Switzerland amends the AMLA.

It will be interesting to see to what extent the Swiss parliament will align with the FATF recommendations. The FATF expects Switzerland to have its domestic law amended in effect as of February 2020.

How competitive is the legal market in business crime defence at present?

The legal market is no doubt competitive. Law firms that wish to handle complex business crime defence matters must gather a certain number of qualities (specific know-how and experience in criminal proceedings or in the concerned area of law, responsiveness, service to the client in various languages and in other cantons, ability to staff a specific mandate with enough lawyers having the appropriate degree of seniority, etc).

What are the most significant challenges you are anticipating in the area over the coming five years?

One of the important changes in recent years is the increasing cooperation of criminal prosecuting authorities in corruption cases (Petrobras, FIFA and 1MDB). The same phenomenon occurs in the area of cybercriminality. For instance, in an operation in the Netherlands coordinated in 2018 between Swiss and Dutch authorities, two persons suspected of being responsible for phishing calls in Switzerland were arrested and house searches were carried out. International cybercrime requires national prosecution authorities, which normally operate within their territorial boundaries, to take new approaches, such as cross-border cooperation. This increasing cross-border cooperation of the prosecuting authorities raises new challenges for business crime defence lawyers. We must also liaise and coordinate our efforts with our colleagues from other jurisdictions.

What has been your greatest achievement to date?

Over recent years, we have achieved satisfactory results for our clients, such as acquittals or dropping-off of charges. But more than that, my greatest achievement to date is to have been able to set up a team of approximately 20 professionals, specialising in complex business crime matters and fraud litigations. This is obviously not a personal accomplishment but rather the result of a team exercise, that I have been able to achieve together with experienced lawyers with whom I have worked more than 10 years – such as Andrew Garbarski, Aurélie Conrad Hari, Marie Christine Balzan and Anne Valérie Julen Berthod.

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Switzerland

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer’s white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team in Geneva. He has extensive experience in business crime defence, asset recovery, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance, and arbitration. He regularly assists clients in a number of complex commercial and criminal proceedings, in international commercial and sport (CAS) arbitrations. He is frequently involved in multi-jurisdictional matters requiring methodical coordination of strategy.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.

At the beginning of my career, when I completed a degree in both economics and law at the University of Geneva, I hesitated on whether to focus on corporate law or dispute resolution. After experience in the corporate department of a magic circle firm in London, I realised that I was much more attracted to confrontation before the courts than drafting M&A contracts or prospectuses for unsubordinated bonds issues. I then naturally oriented my career in dispute resolution matters, which also corresponds more to my personality. I first started as a civil litigator and became more and more involved in white-collar crime proceedings. I must admit that this area of law is thrilling and constitutes a significant part of my current activity, even though I still litigate before civil courts or arbitral tribunals.

HOW HAS THE MARKET FOR BUSINESS CRIME DEFENCE CHANGED SINCE YOU FIRST STARTED PRACTISING?

I still remember 10 years ago when we were discussing among partners the necessity of having a white-collar crime department in the firm. In those days, this area of law was difficult to market in large firms and was rather left to boutique firms. Times have changed: cases like Madoff and more recently FIFA and 1MDB made full-service firms realise the importance of offering services such as asset tracing and business crime defence to corporate clients or executives.

WHAT MAKES BÄR & KARRER STAND OUT FROM ITS COMPETITORS IN THE MARKET?

The size of our white-collar crime department is important (more than 20 lawyers). We are able to act responsively and line up business crime specialists in all linguistic regions of Switzerland (we have offices in Zurich, Geneva, Lugano and Zug). Besides, we are a fully integrated law firm, meaning for us it is a priority that the know-how circulates in all our offices.  

HOW DO YOU THINK THE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN SWISS CORPORATE CRIMINAL LIABILITY WILL SHAPE THE PRACTICES OF WHITE-COLLAR DEFENCE LAWYERS?

Important developments were triggered by the Swiss Post case back in 2016. In this decision, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court (FSC) held that the fulfilment of the necessary conditions triggering corporate liability could not be proven in cases of absence or abandonment of prosecution against individual perpetrators of an underlying offence. Accordingly, the FSC acquitted Swiss Post. In light of this decision, prosecuting authorities are no longer eager to abandon proceedings against individuals or focus their investigation exclusively on the company. On the contrary, when criminal corporate liability is at stake, prosecutors are henceforth eager to find a scapegoat and prosecute individuals in order to circumvent the hurdle of the Swiss Post case. It has thus become common practice that executives, board members or even employees of companies are prosecuted together with the company itself.   

SOURCES HAVE NOTED INCREASED COOPERATION BETWEEN PROSECUTING AUTHORITIES IN TRANSNATIONAL MATTERS. HOW DO YOU THINK THIS TREND WILL DEVELOP OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?

One can indeed observe this trend in practice. In matters such as Operation Car Wash, FIFA and 1MDB, prosecuting authorities are clearly coordinating their actions. The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland confirmed this cooperation by issuing press releases. This situation should prompt defence counsel to react accordingly and coordinate their actions, in particular by making sure that the client is not punished twice for the same offence.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A SUCCESSFUL LITIGATOR?

Creativity, responsiveness, understanding the priorities of your clients, and hard work.

AS HEAD OF BÄR & KARRER’S WHITE-COLLAR CRIME GROUP, HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DEVELOP THE PRACTICE OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

There are interesting developments, in particular regarding cybercriminality. Enforcement authorities are hiring specialists so that they are ready to deal with these developments. Law firms should do the same in order to face these new challenges. Besides this, the continuous training of our lawyers is of paramount importance. Our constant preoccupation is to ensure that we are able to provide the same quality of services in all our offices. To that effect, we are regularly conducting internal seminars where we all share our experience and know-how. 

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Asset Recovery

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Saverio Lembo is recognised as “a top lawyer” according to sources, whose world-class practice sees him work on some of the most complex issues in asset recovery.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Asset Recovery: Lawyers

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Saverio Lembo is “insanely good” when it comes to asset-tracing matters according to sources who commend his “impressive grasp of the situation and excellent tactical assessment and recommendations”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Asset Recovery which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Business Crime Defence

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Saverio Lembo is a renowned white-collar practitioner who sources name “a leader in the field”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Business Crime Defence: Individuals

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Saverio Lembo wins high praise for his first-class work handling a wide range of white-collar proceedings on behalf of both corporate entities and individuals.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Business Crime Defence which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Business Crime Defence: Corporates

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Saverio Lembo is a highly respected figure in the Swiss market where he boasts a great reputation as one of the leading corporate criminal lawyers in the country.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Business Crime Defence which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Investigations

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Saverio Lembo boasts “a very strong practice” in the field, and regularly advises Swiss and foreign clients subject to complex corporate investigations.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Investigations: Lawyers

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Saverio Lembo is a standout name in the corporate crime space who boasts extensive experience handling high-profile white-collar investigations.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Investigations which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Litigation: Lawyers

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Saverio Lembo is "one of the best litigators" in the Swiss market. His is "well known in the field" and stands out among peers as "a strong opponent".

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Litigation which can be purchased from our Shop.

Who's Who Legal Switzerland - Litigation

Saverio Lembo heads Bär & Karrer's white-collar crime practice group, as well as the litigation team of the Geneva office. He has been a partner since 2003.

He has extensive experience in white-collar crime, commercial and financial litigation, international judicial assistance (civil and criminal), arbitration and insolvency. During recent years, he has been involved in a number of complex commercial litigation proceedings, has served as a party representative or arbitrator in various domestic and international commercial arbitrations and has assisted clients in Swiss and foreign criminal proceedings. He regularly represents clients before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Saverio Lembo's practice also extends to pharmaceutical litigation, inheritance law, employment matters and enforcement of foreign judgments and awards.

WWL says: Top-tier litigator Saverio Lembo "really stands out as one of the best – he is a shining personality”.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Switzerland which can be purchased from our Shop.

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