White-collar crime in Australia

Allens

The powerhouse team at Allens remains a market leader, taking a multidisciplinary approach to advising national and international corporations and financial institutions on major investigations brought by regulators and law enforcement agencies into money laundering and bribery allegations. Headed up by commercial disputes expert Peter Haig and law enforcement investigation expert Rachel Nicolson in Melbourne and regulatory specialist Chris Kerrigan in Sydney, the group assists high-profile clients including Westpac, Crown Resorts, and ANZ Banking Group with a diverse spectrum of matters including anti-bribery risk assessments, investigations, transactional due diligence and compliance programs. The team is supported by Guy Foster in Sydney, who specialises in contractual and transactional disputes.

Other key lawyers:

Guy Foster

Key clients

Crown Resorts Limited

Westpac Banking Corporation

Snowy Mountain Engineering Company (SMEC)

ANZ Banking Group Limited

Iluka Resources

Bendigo & Adelaide Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising Crown in relation to various significant matters arising in connection with the NSW Casino Inquiry.
  • Acting for Westpac in AUSTRAC’s investigation (commenced in August 2018) and defending the bank in the proceedings commenced in November 2019.
  • Conducted a series of independent investigations for Snowy Mountain Engineering Company (SMEC) in connection with issues relating to the bribery of foreign officials.

Herbert Smith Freehills

The corporate crime and financial investigations group at Herbert Smith Freehills leverages the firm's global presence and the experience of the team, to act for major national and international clients involved in multi-jurisdictional compliance matters and investigations. Led by regulatory investigation authority Grant Marjoribanks in the Sydney office, the team’s client portfolio includes Rio Tinto, BHP and Citigroup Global Markets, and spans the financial services, government, mining and energy sectors. The full-service practice covers fraud, bribery, corruption and internal investigations, money laundering issues, whistleblowing mandates, class actions and cartel issues. The team also fields anti-bribery expert Andrew Eastwood and senior associate Christine Wong, who specialises in enforcement matters.

Practice head(s):

Grant Marjoribanks

Other key lawyers:

Andrew Eastwood; Christine Wong

Key clients

Horizon Oil

Rio Tinto

BHP Limited

Citigroup Global Markets Australia Pty Limited (CGMA)

Tabcorp

Work highlights

  • Advising Horizon Oil on how to best set up an investigation to ensure it is privileged, conducting the investigation and advising on interactions with the AFP.
  • Advising Citigroup Global Markets Australia Pty Limited on a criminal cartel prosecution brought by the ACCC and the CDPP related to its participation in an institutional placement by ANZ.
  • Advised Star Petroleum on potential options to trace and recover funds which had been transferred to bank accounts in Australia, including successfully making an urgent application for freezing orders to the New South Wales Supreme Court and negotiating a favourable settlement for the client.

Allen & Overy LLP

The anti-bribery and corruption and white-collar crime group at Allen & Overy LLP assists major national and international corporations and financial institutions involved in multi-jurisdictional, high-value acquisitions and regulatory investigations. Headed up in Sydney by regulatory enforcement specialist Jason Gray, the team also fields experts in Perth and works closely with colleagues in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing to advise overseas private equity funds, hedge funds and industrial conglomerates across the mining, financial services, technology and healthcare sectors. Recent work includes handling internal investigations, defending clients before government agencies, compliance programs and due diligence. The team is supported in Sydney by white-collar crime expert Edward Einfeld and senior associate Jessica Ji, who specialises in anti-money laundering matters.

Practice head(s):

Jason Gray

Other key lawyers:

Edward Einfeld; Jessica Ji

Testimonials

‘We engaged the A&O team to handle a global compliance program, and we have nothing but glowing reviews for the work that they’ve done for us so far. The team is very hands-on, very commercially aligned with our objectives, and very easy to work with.’

‘From the moment we mandated the A&O Team to the last phase of this project, they have been very hands on and incredibly helpful in ensuring the success of this program. Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, our regular check-ins with the A&O Team have proven very useful in pushing the program along, and making sure all the milestones are met.’

Work highlights

  • Representing an Australian bio-banking company in relation to a referral to ICAC by a NSW government department concerning certain bio-banking deals in the state of NSW.
  • Representing a CFO in relation to criminal charges in a foreign jurisdiction and the flow on effects of those charges in Australia and in respect of this individual’s ability to travel internationally.
  • Advising the renewables business of an ASX-listed iron-ore miner on its global expansion, assisting with anti-bribery and corruption and economic sanctions compliance.

Ashurst

The corporate crime practice at Ashurst takes a multidisciplinary approach, working across its dispute resolution, competition, employment and financial regulatory departments to provide solutions for financial institutions, multinationals, government bodies and senior executives involved in high-profile investigations and prosecutions. Led by white-collar crime authority Rani John in Sydney, the team’s client roster includes CPH Crown, Freedom Foods Group and TerraCom Limited and also spans the energy, financial services, mining and construction sectors. The group assists with a wide range of issues, from public inquiries and ASIC matters to cartel claims, commercial disputes and internal assessments. The team also includes enforcement expert Ian Bolster in Sydney and anti-corruption and bribery specialist James Clarke in Melbourne, and was bolstered by the mid-2021 arrival of Nicholas Mavrakis from Clayton Utz.

Practice head(s):

Rani John

Testimonials

‘The white collar crime team at Ashurst has deep understandings of corporate regulators and how to approach breaches and material reporting matters. We trust the Ashurst team implicitly.’

Key clients

CPH Crown Pty Limited

Freedom Foods Group Limited

Societe Generale Securities Australia Pty Ltd

TerraCom Limited

Alkaloids of Australia Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Representing CPH Crown in the high-profile Inquiry initiated by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority in August 2019.
  • Acting for Societe Generale in criminal proceedings commenced by the Commonwealth Department of Prosecutions alleging breaches of the notoriously complex “client money rules” in the Corporations Act.
  • Assisting the Board of Freedom Foods Group with an investigation into substantial accounting irregularities connected with the treatment of obsolete inventory, aged debtors and recognition of revenue.

Clayton Utz

The anti-bribery and corruption group at Clayton Utz leverages the experience of its team to advise major international corporate and financial services clients involved in multi-jurisdictional bribery cases and enforcement investigations brought by regulatory bodies and government agencies. Led by fraud and bribery authority Tobin Meagher from the Sydney office and international investigation expert David Benson in Perth, the team’s client list features Sheahan Lock Partners and Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean as well as names from the energy, pharmaceuticals, financial and government sectors. The group’s recent work includes handling risk management plans, identifying the potential bribery and corruption elements of M&A transactions, and assisting with allegations of cartel offences. The team is supported by regulatory specialist Catherine Parry in Sydney and senior associate Tessa Trend in Perth.

Practice head(s):

Tobin Meagher; David Benson

Testimonials

‘Strong technical ability combined with capability and coverage to respond quickly across jurisdictions to issues as they emerge.’

‘Tobin Meagher is very user-friendly, a strategic thinker, and always across the detail. Skilled in leading teams in complex matters.’

‘We’ve found the Clayton Utz team provide a clear analysis of our complex legal positions, all of which are presented in plain English allowing us to understand and manage our risk exposure appropriately.’

‘Tobin Meagher has been excellent throughout a long-running engagement helping our group step through a complex set of legal exposures.’

‘Technical excellence, great communication and an ability to adapt to a more collegial model given the expertise within the client firm.’

‘Tobin Meagher – his technical ability is excellent and he is always available.’

‘The Senior Associate responsible for much of the actual work, and with whom I’ve had the greatest amount of contact, is Laura Peck. Laura is simply excellent – hard-working, knowledgeable, diligent, always maintaining her focus and attention to detail. A great lawyer.’

‘Clayton Utz has an extremely capable litigation/insolvency practice headed by Tobin Meagher. It is an excellent team ranging from senior associate to lawyer. They take ownership of all legal issues and work closely with our team.’

Key clients

Sheahan Lock Partners

Wallenius Wilhelmsen Ocean

Work highlights

  • Acting for Sheahan Lock Partners as liquidators of various companies and the Australian Commissioner of Taxation (ATO) in complex, high-profile proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia seeking to recover significant losses arising from various ‘back-to-back’ loan schemes engaged in by members of the Binetter family to evade their obligations under Australia’s taxation laws.
  • Advising WWO on charges relating to an alleged cartel conduct concerning the international shipping of vehicles to Australia between June 2011 and July 2012; the charge was laid by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution (CDPP) in the Federal Court in Sydney and was resolved by way of imposition of a criminal fine on WWO in February 2021.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth

The white-collar crime group at Corrs Chambers Westgarth represents major international corporations, financial institutions and the government, with clients involved in high-profile investigations, public inquiries and enforcement actions involving regulators including the ASIC and ACC. Headed up by investigatory specialist Abigail Gill in the Melbourne office, the group’s acts for clients in the technology, financial services, fintech, construction and natural resources sectors. The team also fields veteran litigator Craig Phillips in Melbourne, public sector governance expert James Whittaker in Sydney, and risk dispute specialist Kirsty Sutherland in Perth.

Practice head(s):

Abigail Gill

Work highlights

  • Advising the Royal Commission (as Solicitors Assisting) currently undertaking its inquiry into Crown Melbourne Ltd, Crown Resorts Ltd and other associates.
  • Advising the former Treasurer of ANZ Bank who has been named as a defendant in proceedings brought by the ACCC.
  • Acting for the President of the Legislative Council in high-profile Supreme Court litigation against the Attorney General of Western Australia and the Corruption and Crime Commission regarding significant issues of parliamentary privilege.

Gilbert + Tobin

The regulatory and compliance group at Gilbert + Tobin advises multinationals and financial institutions on high-profile public investigations and enforcement actions initiated by government agencies and regulators. Led from the Sydney office by regulatory investigation authority Richard Harris and experienced enforcement litigators Elizabeth Avery and Gina Cass-Gottlieb, the team assists Westpac, Paypal and Visa Worldwide with a broad range of matters including internal compliance issues, anti-bribery and corruption risk management work, anti-money laundering matters and counter-terrorism finance preventative strategies, due diligence and cybercrime issues. The team is supported in Sydney by commercial dispute specialist Matt Mackenzie.

Other key lawyers:

Matt Mackenzie

Key clients

Australian Banking Association

Clearview Wealth Management

Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Deloitte

Hong Kong Monetary Authority

Investa

Macquarie Group Limited

PayPal Australia Pty Ltd

TAL Life Insurance

Visa Worldwide

Westpac Banking Corporation

WLTH Pty Ltd

RelayPay Pty Ltd

MYOB Australia Pty Ltd

Holon Global Investments Pty Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advising Westpac in relation to separate investigations by ASIC and APRA in relation to directors’ and officers’ duties and market disclosure following the allegations by AUSTRAC of more than 23 million breaches of anti-money laundering laws; and in relation to three class actions concerning the market disclosure of the AUSTRAC issues.
  • Acting for Deloitte in relation to three separate Royal Commissions concerning Crown Casinos.
  • Advising Macquarie Bank and Macquarie Leasing in relation to a class action regarding ‘flex commission’ arrangements between ANZ and car dealers.

Arnold Bloch Leibler

The white-collar crime group at Arnold Bloch Leibler regularly represents business leaders and major international corporations involved in high-profile prosecutions and investigations brought by regulators and government agencies. Led from the Melbourne office by regulatory specialist Leon Zwier, the team’s clients span the financial services, energy, logistics, engineering and education sectors, and include the former chief executive officer of Sinclair Knight Merz, and the Israel Discount Bank. The group’s full-service practice matters ranging from insider trading issues, securities fraud and criminal cartel conduct, to corruption, foreign bribery and misappropriation of fund mandates. The team is supported in Sydney by white-collar expert Susanna Ford and experienced corporate litigator John Mitchell.

Practice head(s):

Leon Zwier

Other key lawyers:

John Mitchell; Susanna Ford

Testimonials

‘The partners are highly intelligent and across the detail of the facts and the law. They employ hard-working solicitors also who work very well in a team.’

Key clients

Former chief executive officer of Sinclair Knight Merz

Israel Discount Bank

Work highlights

  • Advising the former CEO of Sinclair Knight Merz (now known as Jacobs Group) in connection with a long-running foreign bribery prosecution targeting his former firm.
  • Advised an Australian businessman in relation to criminal proceedings commenced by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) regarding the alleged bribing of foreign public officials in Nauru under the Australian Criminal Code.
  • Acted for Israel Discount Bank in a long-running Federal Court case brought by companies controlled by Australian liquidators and the Australian Tax Office in 2015 and 2020, over an alleged international tax evasion scheme involving the Binetter family, founders of Nudie Juice.

Baker McKenzie

The global compliance and investigations group at Baker McKenzie provides solutions to multinational corporations and individuals involved in major cross-border regulatory investigations. Litigation and compliance expert Georgie Farrant leads the team from the Sydney office, which represents clients in a diverse range of matters including risk management issues, internal investigations, cybersecurity work, anti-money laundering mandates, trade compliance matters, and anti-bribery and corruption issues. The group also counts associate and anti-bribery specialist Gareth Austin.

Practice head(s):

Georgie Farrant

Other key lawyers:

Gareth Austin

Testimonials

‘The people and their experience can help raise the confidence to respond to the regulator.’

‘Very human-centred.’

Key clients

Fujifilm

Work highlights

  • Acted as a long-term adviser to Fujifilm advising in relation to the preparation and implementation of its anti-bribery and corruption and whistleblower policies and procedures including advising in relation to the intersection with global laws and policies.

Dentons

The white-collar and government investigations team at Dentons assists multinationals involved in major enforcement actions and investigators carried out by regulators and government agencies. In Sydney, regulatory expert Ben Allen leads the group, which acts for a client roster which features Watches of Switzerland and Avis Budget Group, and clients in the automotive, retail, food and beverage, maritime, technology and life sciences. The team’s recent workload includes handling money laundering issues, modern slavery work, whistleblowing mandates, and fraud, bribery and corruption matters. The group is supported by cybersecurity specialist Robyn Chatwood in Melbourne, and senior associate Harriet McCormick in Sydney, who advises on commercial dispute resolution issues.

Practice head(s):

Ben Allen

Key clients

Watches of Switzerland

Avis Budget Group

Work highlights

  • Advising Avis Budget Group on its global privacy and related cyber-security matters to achieve its goal of a fully connected fleet by 2020 and manage the full rental experience via the app.
  • Advised Watches of Switzerland on anti-money laundering laws and implications for privacy/cyber security arising from customer relationship management and database management strategies.
  • Advising various clients on regulatory compliance and supply chain compliance issues, including modern slavery and other reputation risk issues that fall under the broader anti-bribery and corruption umbrella.

DLA Piper

The litigation and regulatory team at DLA Piper advises major multinational companies and financial institutions on white-collar criminal matters, and assists with investigations and enforcement actions carried out by government agencies and regulatory bodies including the ASIC, the APRA, the ACCC and the AFP. Led by white-collar crime expert Natalie Caton in Brisbane, the group offers advice to clients in the financial services, travel, transportation, mining, real estate, food and education sectors, with expertise spanning fraud issues, money laundering work, whistleblowing mandates, modern slavery matters, internal and external investigations, risk management work, and anti-bribery and corruption issues. The team also includes regulatory investigations expert Jonathon Ellis in Sydney and financial services class action specialist Matthew Spain in Melbourne.

Practice head(s):

Natalie Caton

Other key lawyers:

Jonathon Ellis: Matthew Spain

Testimonials

‘The DLA team was extremely responsive in the sense that they were able to attend to our needs at extremely short notice. They used an online tool into which we could upload documents easily. The practicality of their advice stood out in comparison to some other firms I have dealt with in similar situations.’

‘Natalie Caton gives practical advice on how to handle involvement in a regulatory investigation. She made herself available at very short notice and in a jurisdiction where we do not have a legal team on the ground, made our business people feel well supported, and that the business’s interests were well protected.’

‘A team of well-experienced lawyers dedicated to providing quality advice to clients.’

Work highlights

  • Advising a leading global funds administration business on responding to cyber incidents including engagement with law enforcement and criminal law obligations in Australia.
  • Developed and implemented a world-wide sanctions program for a client that operates around the globe.

Minter Ellison

The anti-bribery and corruption team at Minter Ellison specialises in acting for senior executives and financial institutions involved in investigations and enforcement matters conducted by regulators and government agencies. Headed up in Sydney by anti-corruption strategy expert James Beaton, the group’s client base includes Westpac Banking Corporation and Commonwealth Bank of Australia and also spans the financial services, education, healthcare and mining sectors. The team’s recent work includes risk management issues, ABC mandates, due diligence, criminal and civil liability work, and anti-money laundering compliance advice. Enforcement matter specialist Ross Freeman in Melbourne is also a key name to note.

Practice head(s):

James Beaton

Other key lawyers:

Ross Freeman

Key clients

Colonial First State Investments Ltd

The Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Limited (CommInsure)

Westpac Banking Corporation

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA)

Work highlights

  • Instructed to represent both respondents (CFSIL and CommInsure) in a class action which seeks damages for members of four separate superannuation funds (of which CFSIL is the trustee) for the alleged overpayment of premiums paid for group insurance policies issued by CommInsure.
  • Advising a Citibank Executive in relation to criminal cartel proceedings brought by the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) against the Executive and eight other defendants in relation to a $2.5bn capital raising for ANZ in 2015.

Clifford Chance

The anti-bribery and corruption team at Clifford Chance leverages the firm's global network to act for regional and multinational corporations, individuals and financial institutions involved in high-profile investigations brought by government regulators and enforcement agencies. Spearheaded by experienced litigator Ben Luscombe in Perth, and regulatory enforcement specialist Tim Grave and class action expert Angela Pearsall in Sydney, the group assists clients across the energy, media, mining and financial services sectors with crisis management work, due diligence, internal reviews, risk management issues and front-line compliance.

Clyde & Co LLP

The white-collar crime group at Clyde & Co LLP advises major insurers and individuals involved in investigations carried out by various regulators and government agencies. Led by corporate regulatory expert Avryl Lattin in Sydney, the team assists a varied client roster, which includes CGU Insurance and Chubb Limited, on a wide spectrum of matters encompassing money laundering and corporate fraud mandates, bribery and corruption issues, internal investigations, cybersecurity work and forensic analyses. The group also fields professional investigations specialist Jehan-Philippe Wood in Perth, and associate Jacob Smit in Sydney, who advises on international trade compliance issues.

Practice head(s):

Avryl Lattin

Other key lawyers:

Jehan-Philippe Wood; Jacob Smit

Key clients

AUB Group Limited and Austbrokers Canberra Pty Ltd

CGU Insurance Ltd

Chubb Limited

Work highlights

  • Managed a major internal fraud investigation involving an insurance broker and the consequential issues including legal action against the perpetrator, remediation process for customers and self-reporting to regulators.
  • Advised the insurer on coverage for an employee fraud at a Perth based bar and bottle shop business under the Crime Loss section of a Management Liability policy.
  • Investigating the circumstances giving rise to a prosecution and prior ASIC investigation and advising CGU on policy response for the insured’s defence costs and ASIC’s costs.

Johnson Winter & Slattery

The corporate crime group at Johnson Winter & Slattery advises major domestic and international corporations and individuals involved in multi-jurisdictional regulatory investigations and criminal prosecutions. Led by anti-bribery and corruption expert Robert Wyld, the team’s clients include the OECD and the International Bar Association with additional names across the aviation, construction, energy and defence sectors. The group regularly handles trade sanctions issues, money laundering and bribery work, tax fraud mandates, due diligence, modern slavery matters, internal investigations and risk assessments.

Practice head(s):

Robert Wyld

Testimonials

‘Johnson Winter & Slattery has the premier anti-corruption practice in Australia.’

‘Rob Wyld is Australia’s leading expert on anti-corruption issues. He is passionate and thoughtful. His advice is pragmatic and understandable. He is also very personable and clients and co-counsel enjoy working with him.’

‘One of the, if not the leading firm in New South Wales with brilliant and charming lawyers. It remains an immense pleasure to work with and know many of their Partners, each of whom are leaders in their fields.’

Key clients

Former director of Sinclair Knight Merz

IBA and OECD

International Bar Association

Work highlights

  • Acting for a former SKM Director in a high-profile foreign bribery prosecution, which is proceeding to a contested criminal trial.
  • Acted as the IBA co-lead on the Presidential Task Force with the OECD on the Role of Lawyers in International Commercial Structures.
  • Undertaking ongoing pro-bono work for the Afghanistan Independent Bar Association (AIBA), assisting to embed the Anti-Corruption Guidelines for the Afghanistan legal profession, to assist in encouraging transparency and integrity in the legal system and monitoring progress.

Norton Rose Fulbright

The business ethics and anti-corruption group at Norton Rose Fulbright leverages the reach of the firm’s global network with the experience of the team to assist with major inquiries and advise government regulators, agencies and multinational corporations involved in high-profile investigations and enforcement actions. Led by Abigail McGregor from the Sydney office, the group’s clients include the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC), with a client portfolio that spans the financial services, energy, health, mining, construction and fintech sectors. The team’s expertise covers anti-money laundering breaches, whistleblowing complaints, international sanctions, and fraud work. The group is supported in Sydney by veteran risk adviser Scott Atkins and associate Jeremy Moller, who specialises in compliance issues.

Practice head(s):

Abigail McGregor

Other key lawyers:

Scott Atkins; Jeremy Moller

Testimonials

‘The members of the NRF practices involved with financial crime are very knowledgeable and very proactive.’

Key clients

Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (NSW Government Agency)

Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC)

Work highlights

  • Appointed solicitors assisting the NSW Casino inquiry, regarding allegations that Crown Resorts or its agents, affiliates, or subsidiaries engaged in money laundering and/or partnered with junket operators with links to drug traffickers, money launderers, human traffickers and organised crime groups.
  • Acting for ASIC in a series of proceedings relating to high-risk investment products known as retail over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives, which include foreign exchange (FX) contracts-for-difference (CFDs).
  • Advising the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children on child exploitation offences at the Australian Commonwealth and State level and the implications in respect of anti-money laundering compliance.