GRR 100 2019

Monfrini Bitton Klein

Professional notice

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

Global head of restructuring and insolvencyEnrico Monfini, Yves Klein
Restructuring lawyers in Who's Who Legal2

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.

Based in Geneva but borderless in its reach, Monfrini Bitton Klein is an internationally recognised, conflict-free litigation boutique focusing on asset recovery, anti-corruption investigations, business crime and offshore litigation.

Successor to the law firm founded by Enrico Monfrini in 1978, the firm has, since the late 1990s, gained international renown for conducting and coordinating multi-jurisdictional asset recovery proceedings on behalf of foreign governments in grand corruption cases, liquidators of foreign insolvencies (Stanford International Bank Ltd, Banco Santos SA, Banca Turco Romana SA, Bilta (UK) Ltd, Saad Investment Company Ltd), and defrauded companies or individuals, resulting in the recovery of more than US$2 billion in damages and crime proceeds. Using their asset recovery skills, they have also obtained the recognition and enforcement in Switzerland of foreign judgments and arbitral awards worth several hundred million of US dollars.

Over the years, the firm’s lawyers have developed innovative asset recovery strategies and techniques, using a unique combination of cross-border criminal, mutual assistance, insolvency and civil proceedings to obtain restorative justice for their clients.

Yves Klein and Antonia Mottironi have published several articles on the new Swiss provisions on cross-border insolvency that enter into force in 2019 and greatly facilitate the recognition of foreign insolvencies (www.mbk.law/en/cross-border-insolvency). They have filed what is probably the first request for recognition of the authority of a foreign trustee under the new Swiss regime.

For years, the firm has been recognised for its strength in asset recovery business crime and litigation by Chambers and Who’s Who Legal. In 2019, Monfrini Bitton Klein received the Asset Recovery Firm of the Year Award at the Who’s Who Legal Switzerland Awards. Yves Klein received the Who’s Who Legal Asset Recovery Lawyer of the Year Award in both the global and Switzerland categories. 

Monfrini Bitton Klein’s lawyers have extensive understanding of working in a multicultural environment, and speak French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Italian.

The firm has access to hundreds of internationally renowned specialised correspondent lawyers and other litigation professionals, such as private investigators, forensic accountants, insolvency practitioners and litigation funders around the world. It is Switzerland’s representative of ICC FraudNet, the leading network of fraud and asset recovery lawyers.

Monfrini Bitton KleinPlace du Molard 31204 GenevaSwitzerland

www.mbk.law

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