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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Yves Klein

Yves Klein

Monfrini Bitton KleinPlace du Molard 3GenevaGenevaSwitzerlandCH-1204
Watch interview with Yves Klein

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Yves Klein is “fabulous at asset recovery”, laud sources who single him out as one of the heavyweights of global asset recovery practice.

Questions & Answers

Admitted to the bars of Geneva and Switzerland since 1995, Yves Klein is an international asset recovery lawyer, and a partner at Monfrini Bitton Klein. His main activity is litigating and coordinating transnational asset recovery proceedings before civil, criminal and bankruptcy courts on behalf of victims of economic crimes. He is representative for Switzerland of ICC FraudNet, the world’s leading asset recovery network. He is fluent in French, English, Portuguese and Spanish, and speaks some Italian and German.

When did you decide to pursue a career in law?

After having studied law and international law at the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of Geneva, I originally intended to work in international relations. However, while living in Washington, DC, I started by chance to work for a local law firm active in Latin America, which made me decide to start a legal career when I returned to Geneva.

What motivated you to specialise in the area of economic crime?

Since the 1980s, I have been interested in the fight against money laundering. In the early 1990s, the first Swiss laws that extended the predicate offences of money laundering to economic crime were adopted, which gave teeth to the fight against economic crime and allowed me to build an asset recovery career. In a more general way, restoring justice by depriving wrongdoers from their ill-gotten gains and compensating victims of economic crime is a very strong motivation.

How has the role of the international asset recovery lawyer changed over your career?

In the late 1990s, when I started working on my first asset recovery cases in Switzerland, they were already international by nature. However, what was then missing was the lack of international networks of highly experienced asset recovery professionals one could turn to in other countries. Twenty years have passed since those early ages, and the existence of such international networks, either formal (eg, ICC FraudNet) or informal, allows one to rapidly assess available legal remedies to devise and implement the most effective asset recovery strategy.

To what extent has technology transformed the undertaking of anti-corruption investigations?

In my view, technology has not fundamentally transformed anti-corruption investigations, as the basic ingredients still remain human beings, organisations and laws. Technology has, however, made our work easier and quicker to perform.

How do you overcome the challenges posed by multi-jurisdictional civil proceedings?

By understanding the nature of the different applicable rules and identifying the ways the various legal systems and cultures can work together. An obstacle is only a challenge to the imagination to identify a way to overcome it. With a good case and good arguments, courts will be ready to apply rules in new ways. Building the first bridge between two systems that may look incompatible is the most difficult, but also the most exciting. Once built, the bridge will rapidly become the foundation for a well-travelled road between two legal systems.

What reforms do you expect to see in the coming years with regards to the recognition of foreign judgments and awards?

The Hague Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters has the potential of becoming a game-changer, hopefully in the same way the Brussels Regulation and Lugano Convention have been in Europe. One may regret however, that the torts jurisdiction is very limited, which may restrict the effectivity of The Hague Convention in fraud cases.

What advice would you give to younger lawyers starting out in the field?

Be curious about the laws in your own country, they may prove useful in unexpected ways. Try to gain an understanding about different legal systems, ideally by gaining professional experience abroad. Learn other languages, this will allow you to grasp the details of the case directly rather than through imperfect translations, to communicate with the persons involved directly and to gain an understanding of the cultural background of the dispute. Start building an international network, this will not only help you to build your career, but you will form great friendships across borders.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Yves Klein is “a fantastic lawyer” and “a pleasure to work with”, renowned for his considerable experience coordinating international asset recovery proceedings on the part of claimants and defendants.

Questions & Answers

Admitted to the bars of Geneva and Switzerland since 1995, Yves Klein is an international asset recovery lawyer, and a partner at Monfrini Bitton Klein. His main activity is litigating and coordinating transnational asset recovery proceedings before civil, criminal and bankruptcy courts on behalf of victims of economic crimes. He is representative for Switzerland of ICC FraudNet, the world’s leading asset recovery network. He is fluent in French, English, Portuguese and Spanish, and speaks some Italian and German.

When did you decide to pursue a career in law? 

After having studied law and international law at the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of Geneva, I originally intended to work in international relations. However, while living in Washington, DC, I started, by chance, to work for a local law firm active in Latin America, which made me decide to start a legal career when I returned to Geneva.

What motivated you to specialise in the area of economic crime?

Since the 1980s, I have been interested in the fight against money laundering. In the early 1990s, the first Swiss laws that extended the predicate offences of money laundering to economic crime were adopted, which gave teeth to the fight against economic crime and allowed me to build an asset recovery career. In a more general way, restoring justice by depriving wrongdoers from their ill-gotten gains and compensating victims of economic crime is a very strong motivation.

How has the role of the international asset recovery lawyer changed over your career?

In the late 1990s, when I started working on my first asset recovery cases in Switzerland, they were already international by nature. However, what was then missing was international networks of highly experienced asset recovery professionals one could turn to in other countries. Twenty years have passed since those early ages, and the existence of such international networks, either formal (eg, ICC FraudNet) or informal, allows one to rapidly assess available legal remedies to devise and implement the most effective asset recovery strategy.

To what extent has technology transformed the undertaking of anti-corruption investigations?

In my view, technology has not fundamentally transformed anti-corruption investigations, as the basic ingredients still remain human beings, organisations and laws. Technology has, however, made our work easier and quicker to perform.

How do you overcome the challenges posed by multi-jurisdictional civil proceedings?

By understanding the nature of the different applicable rules and identifying the ways the various legal systems and cultures can work together. An obstacle is only a challenge to the imagination to identify a way to overcome it. With a good case and good arguments, courts will be ready to apply rules in new ways. Building the first bridge between two systems that may look incompatible is the most difficult, but also the most exciting. Once built, the bridge will rapidly become the foundation for a well-travelled road between two legal systems.

What reforms do you expect to see in the coming years with regard to the recognition of foreign judgments and awards?

The Hague Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters has the potential of becoming a game-changer, hopefully in the same way the Brussels Regulation and the Lugano Convention have been in Europe. One may regret however, that the torts jurisdiction is very limited, which may restrict the effectivity of The Hague Convention in fraud cases.

What advice would you give to younger lawyers starting out in the field?

Be curious about the laws in your own country, they may prove useful in unexpected ways. Try to gain an understanding about different legal systems, ideally by gaining professional experience abroad. Learn other languages, this will allow you to grasp the details of the case directly, rather than through imperfect translations, to communicate with the persons involved directly and to gain an understanding of the cultural background of the dispute. Start building an international network: this will not only help you to build your career, but you will form great friendships across borders.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Global Leader

Asset Recovery 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Yves Klein is “a fantastic lawyer” and “a pleasure to work with”, renowned for his considerable experience coordinating international asset recovery proceedings on the part of claimants and defendants.

Biography

Yves Klein is a founding partner of Monfrini Bitton Klein, a conflict-free litigation boutique based in Geneva. The firm focuses on asset recovery, business crime defence, anti-corruption investigations, offshore disputes, international judicial assistance, cross-border insolvency, enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitration awards, and the tracing of matrimonial and estate assets.

Mr Klein’s main activity is litigating and coordinating transnational asset recovery proceedings on behalf of victims of economic crimes, or parties seeking to enforce their claims against assets concealed in Switzerland or abroad.

He develops strategies for the international search for and recovery of assets, and coordinates cross-border proceedings. He represents his clients – be they states, liquidators of foreign bankruptcy estates, corporations or individuals – before civil, criminal and bankruptcy courts, in order to recover the proceeds of crimes and to obtain damages from perpetrators and facilitators.

Since 1999, Mr Klein has, together with his partner Enrico Monfrini, conducted groundbreaking corruption recovery proceedings in the case of Nigeria v Abacha, where more than US$2 billion has been recovered in 10 jurisdictions. For the past 20 years, Mr Klein has also been retained as Swiss counsel in several other corruption recovery cases, notably Brazil v Dos Santos NettoHaiti v DuvalierTunisia v Ben Ali and Guinea v Steinmetz.

As chair of the International Bar Association’s asset recovery subcommittee (anti-corruption committee), Mr Klein has established institutional relationships with the World Bank, the OECD Working Group on Bribery, and anti-corruption law enforcement officials in view of developing best practices regarding the use of civil asset recovery tools in parallel with criminal proceedings.

Mr Klein has also been active in representing bankruptcy estates of foreign banks or publicly traded companies. He has recovered tens of millions of dollars for their depositors, investors and creditors, prominently in the context of Ponzi schemes. He notably represents in Switzerland the bank insolvencies of Stanford International Bank Ltd (Antigua), Banco Santos SA (Brazil) and Banco Turco Romana SA (Romania).

He has obtained the recognition of foreign judgments and arbitral awards for amounts in excess of US$100 million and has successfully recovered the assets that defendants concealed in Switzerland or abroad.

Mr Klein is the Swiss representative of ICC FraudNet, the leading global legal network for asset recovery, present in more than 70 countries. Since 2013 he has been recognised by WWL as one of the world’s most highly regarded individuals in asset recovery, and is recognised by Chambers for his asset recovery activity.

He has published on asset tracing and recovery, anti-corruption, and recognition of foreign judgments and arbitral awards since 1996, and regularly presents on these matters at international conferences.

Admitted to the Geneva Bar in 1995, Mr Klein holds a law degree from the University of Geneva (1989) and a diploma of higher studies in international law from the Graduate Institute of International Studies of Geneva (1993).

He speaks fluent French, English, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian, and some German.

Litigation 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Yves Klein is “a great litigator” who is well versed in representing clients in asset recovery and anti-corruption proceedings.

Biography

Yves Klein is a partner of Monfrini Bitton Klein, a conflict-free litigation boutique based in Geneva. The firm focuses on asset recovery, business crime defence, anti-corruption investigations, offshore disputes, international judicial assistance, cross-border insolvency, enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitration awards, and the tracing of matrimonial and estate assets.

Mr Klein’s main activity is litigating and coordinating transnational asset recovery proceedings on behalf of victims of economic crimes, or parties seeking to enforce their claims against assets concealed in Switzerland or abroad.

He develops strategies for the international search for and recovery of assets, and coordinates cross-border proceedings. He represents his clients – be they states, liquidators of foreign bankruptcy estates, corporations or individuals – before civil, criminal and bankruptcy courts, in order to recover the proceeds of crimes and to obtain damages from perpetrators and facilitators.

As former chair (2015–2016) of the International Bar Association’s asset recovery subcommittee (anti-corruption committee), Mr Klein has established institutional relationships with the World Bank, the OECD Working Group on Bribery, and anti-corruption law enforcement officials in view of developing best practices regarding the use of civil asset recovery tools in parallel with criminal proceedings.

Mr Klein is the Swiss representative of ICC FraudNet, the leading global legal network for asset recovery, present in more than 70 countries. Since 2013 he has been recognised by WWL as one of the world’s most highly regarded individuals in asset recovery, and is recognised by Chambers for his asset recovery activity. He received the Who's Who Legal Asset Recovery Lawyer of the Year Award in 2019.

He has published on asset tracing and recovery, anti-corruption, and recognition of foreign judgments and arbitral awards since 1996, and regularly presents on these matters at international conferences.

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
WWL Ranking: Recommended

Awards won by Yves Klein

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