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WWL says

Steve Holt is “a great investigator who works extremely hard for his clients”, remarks one peer. He is also an expert in matters relating to corruption, bribery and fraud.

Questions & Answers

Steve Holt is a partner in Grant Thornton’s forensic and investigations practice, with a particular focus on aiding clients facing urgent, complex, cross-border issues, including fraud, bribery and corruption, misconduct and asset recovery. Steve has extensive experience investigating high-profile public interest matters, representing governments, companies and private individuals throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and South America.

What do clients look for when selecting an asset recovery expert?

I think clients tend to select most advisers, including asset recovery experts, based largely on a feeling of trust, which tends to be built through a combination of: a demonstrable track record; a strong understanding of the commercial and business risk the client is facing; the ability to navigate difficult issues while focusing on the client’s desired outcome; and being able to communicate in a manner which resonates with the client. 

Have regulatory authorities’ reactions to covid-19 affected the work you are carrying out in your capacity as an asset recovery expert?

The tide is out as it stands – many underlying business issues are laid bare by market disruption, and concerns that have been masked are suddenly visible. 

Regulatory delays have offered a lifeline in that more time is often afforded to those attempting to hide problems; but they also exacerbate the situation for those seeking the quick and tidy resolution of issues.

To what extent is the increasingly virtual nature of investigations in a covid-19 landscape making for a more efficient process? In what aspects is it falling short? 

The widespread adoption of technology to facilitate homeworking has improved accessibility to senior client individuals, and the ability to review and share information as a group. 

Interviews are also more revealing, as the physical separation of the home and work persona has been removed. Asking difficult questions to individuals working from a makeshift office in a cupboard under the stairs often elicits different responses to those asked in a boardroom. 

Limitations do exist, naturally, with physical access to people and hard-copy information being restricted – the most notable issue is losing visibility of the investigation team on client site, which often has a positive impact on investigation progress and speed.

How do you effectively prepare to act as an expert in complex cross-border investigations ?

I approach each new investigation with an open mind, and in listening and learning mode. 

There are basic concepts and procedures that a company should consider and put in place at the inception of an investigation (such as for data preservation and contemplation of where the investigation might lead) but after that, much of the role is to ask questions and quickly learn and respond to what you hear. 

I often find that asking the “stupid” questions at the outset of a matter really helps to get to grips with how a business operates, and how well its employees really understand why it does what it does.

What is the most interesting investigation you have recently been a part of, and why?

The majority of engagements that I am involved with are confidential, but I have recently been working to assist a client in the recovery of a substantial exposure to a company facing significant restructuring and the potential subordination of their position, amid suspicions that something didn’t quite add up.

To me, it is fascinating to uncover hidden relationships and transactions that challenge the historical understanding of a business and its activities, and allow a client to protect or enhance its position. We were able to identify unusual transaction patterns and undisclosed links between senior executives.

How does Grant Thornton distinguish itself from the competition in terms of the asset recovery services it can provide?

Grant Thornton has the market-leading team focused on global asset tracing and recovery. We are experts at finding hidden assets, and assisting in their successful recovery, and have recovered more than £3 billion of assets in more than 65 jurisdictions in the past eight years. 

Our team combines different skill sets, including insolvency, forensic accounting, digital forensics, corporate intelligence and industry-specific knowledge to arrive at creative outcomes for the benefit of our clients.

We are also the mandated recovery agent for Asset Recovery Fund, an innovative funding model for high-value asset recovery and enforcement claims.

What do you enjoy most about working in asset recovery?

The variety and challenge. No two matters, clients, situations or resolutions are the same. Asset recovery matters are often intense and of prime importance to the client, which means that the outcome really impacts all participants.

What advice would you give to someone starting out as an asset recovery expert?

Broadly, ask the stupid questions and get as much exposure to different projects as possible. Have an open mind, and don’t accept that just because something has always been done in one way it is the right way.

Global Leader

Asset Recovery - Experts 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say:

"He's one of our go-to experts on fraud-related matters"
"The most standout feature is that Steve is commercially minded and gets the litigation process"
"Excellent delivery and very personable"
"He's brilliant"

Biography

Steve Holt is a partner in Grant Thornton’s forensic and investigations services practice, with a particular focus on aiding companies facing urgent, complex, cross-border issues including fraud, bribery and corruption, misconduct and asset recovery.

Steve has more than a decade of forensic accounting and investigations experience in high-profile and high-stakes cases. His work often involves the analysis and presentation of complex information from multiple sources in a clear format that may be used to support disclosure to regulators or as an expert report as part of legal proceedings.

He is involved in a number of high-profile international assignments representing governments, public companies, and private individuals, and assists in both the recovery and seizure of substantial funds.

Recently, Steve was appointed as expert investigator on behalf of a UK regulator to identify the effect of the actions of management following the collapse of a high-profile company, which resulted in the recovery of over £300 million.

He has also been appointed in several investigations connected with allegations of bribery involving Operation Car Wash in Brazil; uncovered a €620 million cross-border money laundering scheme involving the manipulation of several international banks by a cartel of rogue businessmen; and led an investigation into concerns of misconduct at an international sports federation.

Steve is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and a certified fraud examiner. He holds a first-class honours degree in statistics from the University of Bath.

WWL Ranking: Recommended
WWL Ranking: Recommended
WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

"Steve is very user friendly, has excellent attention to detail and is very solution focussed"
"I really rate Steve, he is brilliant and a lovely guy too"
"Steve has been of great assistance in locating assets both in the UK and other jurisdictions"
"He has great output level and always makes valid input"
"He has built a great reputation"

Biography

Steve Holt is a partner in Grant Thornton’s forensic and investigations services practice, with a particular focus on aiding companies facing urgent, complex and cross-border issues including fraud, bribery and corruption, misconduct, and asset recovery.

Steve has more than a decade of forensic accounting and investigations experience in high-profile and high-stakes cases. His work often involves the analysis and presentation of complex information from multiple sources in a clear format that may be used to support disclosure to regulators, or as an expert report as part of legal proceedings.

He is involved in many high-profile international assignments representing governments, public companies and private individuals, and assists in both the recovery and seizure of substantial funds.

Recently, Steve was appointed as expert investigator on behalf of a UK regulator to identify the effect of the actions of management following the collapse of a high-profile company, which resulted in the recovery of over £300 million.

He has also been appointed in several investigations connected with allegations of bribery involving Operation Car Wash in Brazil; uncovered a €620 million cross-border money laundering scheme involving the manipulation of several international banks by a cartel of rogue businessmen; and led an investigation into concerns of misconduct at an international sports federation.

Steve is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and a certified fraud examiner. He holds a first-class honours degree in statistics from the University of Bath.

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