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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Stéphane Bonifassi

Stéphane Bonifassi

Bonifassi Avocats34 boulevard HaussmannParisFrance75009
Watch interview with Stéphane Bonifassi

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Stéphane Bonifassi is “the go-to lawyer in France” for business crime matters and wins high praise from sources, one of whom comments, “He takes a very pragmatic approach and gets the work done.”

Questions & Answers

Litigator Stéphane Bonifassi has practised complex financial criminal law for nearly 30 years. He counsels individuals, companies and states affected by illicit schemes and other financial crimes, and is often consulted in high-stakes litigation. In these endeavours he is assisted by members of the Paris-based boutique law firm he leads, Bonifassi Avocats. He co-founded the International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators, a collaboration of litigation professionals working with the Basel Institute on Governance to expand worldwide access to solutions in economic crime cases.

What has been your most interesting case to date and why?

Two cases come to mind. In the first, I advised counsel to a deposed Eastern European president and marshalled court action to jettison an Interpol red notice. Our team came up with the idea of suing Interpol in France, where it’s based. That tactic worked and in one week, I succeeded at getting the red notice lifted. It was a red blitz.

In the second case, a French company sold engines to the Iranian navy. Did that violate European sanctions? France sued the directors and I got them off by making the argument that engines are not weapons.

Why did you co-found the International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators, and how has it enhanced financial crime practice?

The Academy, as we call it, is in its initial phase. Members have met four times for highly interactive examinations of their cases and other aspects of the practice of economic criminal law. From these energetic gatherings emerge fresh ideas and healthy debate over some of the most nettlesome problems driving international cooperation in the interests of victims and the accused in the world of asset recovery and financial crime.

What did you find most challenging about entering business crime and asset recovery practice?

Well, it’s not challenging because I like it. I appreciate a good fight. In both practices they’re the most challenging because the stakes are high. Is someone going to jail? Did someone lose a huge chunk of money? If either answer is yes, the case is bound to be complex.

How has the market changed since you first started practising?

Compliance programmes and internal investigations have emerged in the area of business crime defence because they can be used as leverage to settle criminal cases. That is the crucial new element that has emerged over the past decade. Here, skilled litigators may not handle the in-house procedures, but they do the strategic analysis of predicting prosecutorial decisions and conducting the defence. In asset recovery cases, where settlements generally are not an option, firms like mine are more likely than they used to be to combine asset recovery with white-collar criminal defence

How do you prepare as a litigator for a large, cross-border financial crime matter?

To strategise against smart (crooked) people represented by smart lawyers, you must put yourself into their minds. Then use all the tools you can muster to thwart them at every level of the judicial, investigative and regulatory systems. If we are defending clients in white-collar cases, again, strategy is paramount. You can’t just be reactive, but must play one or two moves ahead on the multi-dimensional chessboard.

Why did you decide to start your own firm in this field?

A team can always cover more ground than any single individual. Since opening Bonifassi Avocats in 2017, I have been fortunate to assemble a group of colleagues whose skills complement mine and each other’s. They are as diverse as the types of matters our firm handles and their backgrounds make them particularly flexible and capable of handling international legal matters.

As a founder of the firm, what are your main priorities for development over the next five years?

We must continue to prove, case by case, that our boutique law firm is every bit as capable as “big law” of tackling the most complex and far-flung cases. We offer a personal touch for both international and domestic matters that is uniquely our own.  Once they step across our threshold, clients appreciate this greatly.

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

I would like to work toward making the Academy an international thought leader in the generation of solutions to economic crimes. We say the Academy is where theory meets practice, so the collaboration between experienced litigation service providers and noted academics should continue to be fruitful. Word of what we’re doing will spread and generate reaction, both pro and con, but that’s what we want. The more people who discuss and debate the Academy’s proposals and studies, the better.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Stéphane Bonifassi is hailed as “the best around” for his extensive know-how in complex white-collar crime cases with nearly three decades of experience. 

Biography

Stéphane Bonifassi's extensive criminal court experience over nearly 30 years, along with his knowledge of foreign laws and resourcefulness working abroad, has earned him recognition in 2018 as France’s number-one “Thought Leader” for business crime defence. He also holds the number-one spot in France for asset recovery.

Bonifassi specialises in business crime and fraud, corruption, asset recovery, forfeiture and confiscation cases, economic sanctions, transnational enforcement of judgments and internal investigations. WWL describes him as “a major player” in the investigations space, with his peers noting his “world-class work handling” of financial and corporate crime matters. Moreover, his work in commercial litigation is recognised, earning international acclaim for his “first-rate” advocacy work.

In 2018, he co-founded the International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators, a collaboration of experienced public and private litigation professionals and distinguished academics working with the Basel Institute on Governance to expand worldwide access to solutions in economic crime cases.

His written contributions are regularly recognised and some have earned him Plume d’Or awards from Les Plumes De L’Économie & Du Droit. Two articles, written for Le Monde, focused on international corruption and on the benefits of deferred prosecution agreements to France’s legal system. He continues to contribute thoughtful commentary to mitigate the risks surrounding financial crime.

Bonifassi has served as president of the criminal law commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and as a co-chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association.

Bonifassi Avocats handles international litigation, involving complex business crimes, with a focus on fraud, corruption and asset recovery.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Stéphane Bonifassi is hailed as “the best” for his extensive know-how in complex white-collar crime cases, with nearly three decades of experience.

Biography

Stéphane Bonifassi's extensive criminal court experience over nearly 30 years, along with his knowledge of foreign laws and resourcefulness working abroad, has earned him recognition in 2018 as France’s number-one “Thought Leader” for business crime defence. He also holds the number-one spot in France for asset recovery.

Bonifassi specialises in business crime and fraud, corruption, asset recovery, forfeiture and confiscation cases, economic sanctions, transnational enforcement of judgments and internal investigations. WWL describes him as “a major player” in the investigations space, with his peers noting his “world-class work handling” of financial and corporate crime matters. Moreover, his work in commercial litigation is recognised, earning international acclaim for his “first-rate” advocacy work.

In 2018, he co-founded the International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators, a collaboration of experienced public and private litigation professionals and distinguished academics working with the Basel Institute on Governance to expand worldwide access to solutions in economic crime cases.

His written contributions are regularly recognised and some have earned him Plume d’Or awards from Les Plumes De L’Économie & Du Droit. Two articles, written for Le Monde, focused on international corruption and on the benefits of deferred prosecution agreements to France’s legal system. He continues to contribute thoughtful commentary to mitigate the risks surrounding financial crime.

Bonifassi has served as president of the criminal law commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and as a co-chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association.

Bonifassi Avocats handles international litigation, involving complex business crimes, with a focus on fraud, corruption and asset recovery.

WWL Ranking: Recommended
Litigation 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Stéphane Bonifassi is recognised by international peers as a top litigator in the French market, known for his deep expertise in corporate crime litigation.

Biography

Stéphane Bonifassi's extensive criminal court experience over nearly 30 years, along with his knowledge of foreign laws and resourcefulness working abroad, has earned him recognition in 2018 as France’s number-one “Thought Leader” for business crime defence. He also holds the number-one spot in France for asset recovery.

Bonifassi specialises in business crime and fraud, corruption, asset recovery, forfeiture and confiscation cases, economic sanctions, transnational enforcement of judgments and internal investigations. WWL describes him as “a major player” in the investigations space, with his peers noting his “world-class work handling” of financial and corporate crime matters. Moreover, his work in commercial litigation is recognised, earning international acclaim for his “first-rate” advocacy work.

He co-founded the International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators, a collaboration of experienced public and private litigation professionals and distinguished academics working with the Basel Institute on Governance to expand worldwide access to solutions in economic crime cases.

His written contributions are regularly recognised and some have earned him Plume d’Or awards from Les Plumes De L’Économie & Du Droit. Two articles, written for Le Monde, focused on international corruption and on the benefits of deferred prosecution agreements to France’s legal system. He continues to contribute thoughtful commentary to mitigate the risks surrounding financial crime.

Bonifassi has served as president of the criminal law commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and as a co-chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association.

Bonifassi Avocats handles international litigation, involving complex business crimes, with a focus on fraud, corruption and asset recovery.

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Stéphane Bonifassi is a top-notch litigator who “stands out for his white-collar crime work” on both domestic and international levels.

Biography

Stéphane Bonifassi's extensive criminal court experience over nearly 30 years, along with his knowledge of foreign laws and resourcefulness working abroad, have earned him recognition in 2019 as France’s number-one “Thought Leader” for business crime defence. He also holds the number-one spot in France for asset recovery.

Bonifassi specialises in cases involving business crime and fraud, corruption, asset recovery, forfeiture and confiscation, economic sanctions, transnational enforcement of judgments and internal investigations. WWL describes him as “a major player” in the investigations space, with his peers noting his “world-class work handling” of financial and corporate crime matters. Moreover, his work in commercial litigation is recognised, earning international acclaim for his “first-rate” advocacy work.

He co-founded the International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators, a collaboration of experienced public and private litigation professionals and distinguished academics working with the Basel Institute on Governance to expand worldwide access to solutions in economic crime cases.

His written contributions are widely recognised and some have earned him Plume d’Or awards from Les Plumes De L’Économie & Du Droit. Two articles, written for Le Monde, focus on international corruption and on the benefits of deferred prosecution agreements to France’s legal system. He continues to contribute thoughtful commentary about ways to mitigate the risks surrounding financial crime.

Bonifassi has served as president of the criminal law commission of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) and as a co-chair of the business crime committee of the International Bar Association.

Bonifassi Avocats handles international litigation involving complex business crimes, with a focus on fraud, corruption and asset recovery.

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