Global Restructuring Review - Cross-border restructuring and insolvency legal news, features and events

GRR 100 2019

Monfrini Bitton Klein

15 May 2019

The firm is known for its expertise in asset recovery and acting for foreign liquidators

Global head of restructuring and insolvency Enrico Monfini, Yves Klein
Restructuring lawyers in Who's Who Legal 2

History of the practice

Switzerland’s Monfrini Bitton Klein is a successor to a law firm founded by Enrico Monfrini in 1978, which was a prominent force in arbitration, litigation and international business law. Monfrini still plays a role in the current firm as counsel, and over the years has become known for tracking down billions of dollars siphoned off by dictators including former Nigerian leader General Sani Abacha and ex-Haitian president François “Papa Doc” Duvalier.

Since the late 1990s, the firm has come to the fore in cross-border asset recovery, led by partner Yves Klein. David Bitton joined in 2015 and helped to strengthen the firm’s white collar-crime practice.

The firm adopted its current name in 2017, when it decided to focus on litigation. In particular, the firm is a key player in offshore civil litigation, helping to enforce insolvency orders and freezing orders, as well as pursuing evidence for the benefit of foreign proceedings.

Network

The firm is based in Geneva, but its insolvency work spans the globe.

Who uses it?

The firm’s asset-recovery expertise is tapped by foreign liquidators, foreign governments prosecuting grand corruption cases, and defrauded individuals and companies.

Historic track record

Much of Monfrini’s insolvency work has seen it act as counsel to foreign liquidators on numerous occasions. This includes acting for Marina Saita of Romania’s Bank Deposit Guarantee Fund (FGDB) in the insolvency of Banca Turco Romana. In 2017 the bank obtained Chapter 15 recognition of Romanian insolvency proceedings after criminal proceedings were opened against some of its directors over alleged suspicious activity that suggested the directors’ Swiss accounts had been used for money laundering.

The firm also acted as counsel to Grant Thornton as liquidators of alleged Ponzi scheme Stanford International (SIB). SIB, which was incorporated in Antigua and Barbuda and was part of the US-based Stanford Group, collapsed in February 2009 and entered liquidation in Antigua later that year. 

It has also advised the liquidators of Brazil’s Banco Santos and UK company Bilta, and played a role in the insolvency of Onix Capital, a Chilean investment vehicle run by fraud suspect Alberto Chang-Rajii.