Alejandro Pignataro
Office:
Lindora Corporate Center
3rd floor Santa Ana
City:
San José
Country:
Costa Rica
Tel:
+506 4055 4800

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders Global Elite

Alejandro Pignataro, LLM is a partner at Pignataro Abogados (Costa Rica). His practice focuses on corporate/M&A, and asset tracing and recovery. He frequently serves as local counsel to foreign receiverships, liquidators, government agencies and private victims, in asset tracing and recovery cases across several jurisdictions. He has been appointed as the Costa Rican member of ICC FraudNet, and he has participated as a host and a panellist on international asset tracing and recovery conferences.

What attracted you to specialise in asset recovery and fraud work?

Advising US Securities and Exchange Commission-appointed receivers in a couple of matters close to 20 years ago, with a successful outcome in both matters, drew my interest towards this area of practice. Since then, I have had the opportunity to serve as local counsel to other foreign receiverships, liquidators, government agencies and private victims, in asset tracing and recovery cases in several jurisdictions. In such matters, I have directed the domestic legal proceedings, interfacing with the enforcement agencies involved. Among the most commonly executed tasks in these matters, I have led local investigative efforts, gathered and secured evidence, and located and seized assets via the local authorities, when so required.

What was the most challenging aspect of establishing your own firm?

In a world of globalisation and consolidation of professional services firms, the biggest challenge was the dilemma between going “big/full-service” and “boutique/specialised”. After thorough research and discussion with my then founding partner, we concluded that there was still a significant corporate and individual clientele that favoured a more personalised, specialised and senior level of service, and therefore we opted for the boutique/specialised business model, which has fortunately proven to have been the right decision.

As founding partner, how do you ensure your firm stands out among competition in the market?

Differentiation is the keyword. Independence (free from conflict of interest), specialisation (practising in a select number of areas critical to our clients’ day-to-day needs), and the creation of value (via a profound understanding of our clients’ goals, the industry they do business in and their strategic plans) are our three core values. Through a solid local and international network of practitioners and consultants, we help our clients get further, quicker, via pragmatic, results-driven legal advice in the different areas of practice that we offer.

What are the greatest challenges currently facing asset recovery practitioners?

The greatest challenges facing asset recovery practitioners include, but are not limited to, the definition of jurisdiction over a specific matter; public (typically regulatory agencies) versus private plaintiffs going after the same assets; the interaction between common law and civil law systems; and the differences between civil and criminal asset tracing and recovery tools.

You are a member of ICC FraudNet – how important are such networks for the tracing, freezing and recovery of assets?

Belonging to ICC FraudNet has proven to be a critical success factor in my asset-tracing and recovery practice. Just as business is more and more globalised, so are fraud, corruption and insolvency cases, all common originators of asset recovery work. Offshore structures, accounts, assets and domicile of fraudsters and victims require the ability to act quickly, often in multiple jurisdictions, via specialised counsel and consultants (private investigators, forensic accountants). Time is always of the essence in these matters, so there is no room for a learning curve.

How has the competition for asset recovery lawyers in Central America evolved since you began practising in the area?

We continue to be a select few. Some people tend to assume criminal and/or civil litigators can do asset tracing and recovery work automatically, and although such professional experience adds value to the practice, it requires further, more specialised knowledge, as well as also a solid international network, such as ICC FraudNet.

In what ways has the pace of the technological change affected the way in which you approach asset recovery work?

Technology is a great tool in asset recovery work, for example, in terms of the speed at which we may obtain and process evidence, as well as freeze funds. Through the automatic processing of data, technology is of great help in identifying communications, patterns, generating leads, verifying wire transfers of funds, all of great value for investigative and recovery work. By the same token, it also allows the fraudsters to transfer their ill-gotten gains offshore more quickly. The development and increment of blockchain technology, specifically cryptocurrencies, also poses a significant hurdle when the proceeds of a crime are funnelled via such channels. Technology also presents opportunities to increase anonymity and thus make it harder to identify the ultimate person responsible for parties leading fraudulent online platforms, ie, websites.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners looking to pursue a career in the field?

The best advice I can give to younger practitioners looking to pursue a career in the field is to work with someone already familiar with the area of practice. They should also attend asset tracing and recovery conferences and events, where they can network with leaders in the field, including experts in the areas of forensic accounting, investigative work and information technology, among others.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Central America - Asset Recovery

Alejandro Pignataro (LLM, Boston University, 2003), partner at Pignataro Abogados, leads the asset tracing and recovery practice at the firm. He frequently serves as local counsel to receiverships and private counsel in multi-jurisdictional fraud cases. He is the local representative for ICC Fraudnet.

WWL says: Alejandro Pignataro is a first-rate practitioner who is a leading figure in the asset recovery market both domestically and internationally.

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

Who's Who Legal Central America - Dispute Resolution

Alejandro Pignataro (LLM, Boston University, 2003), partner at Pignataro Abogados, leads the asset tracing and recovery practice at the firm. He frequently serves as local counsel to receiverships and private counsel in multi-jurisdictional fraud cases. He is the local representative for ICC Fraudnet.

WWL says: Alejandro Pignataro is an exceptional practitioner and receives great praise from colleagues who describe him as “the standout attorney in Costa Rica”.

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

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