Dispute resolution: white-collar crime (including fraud) in Austria

Cerha Hempel

Cerha Hempel is recognised by clients and peers alike for its extensive white-collar criminal law expertise spanning criminal defence, compliance and internal investigations. Acting for individuals and companies alike, recent instructions arose from allegations of (internet) fraud, abuse of power, embezzlement, corruption and manipulation of procurement transactions. Criminal law specialist Peter Lewisch, who was appointed senior counsel in 2020, is highly regarded in the market and is particularly active in matters involving international elements. He forms the core team together with regulatory expert Hans Kristoferitsch, who is well versed in internal investigations and asset tracing, and Stefan Huber, who provides advice on a wide range of compliance, criminal law and white-collar criminal law matters. Holger Bielesz, whose strength lies at the intersection between commercial litigation and white-collar criminal law,  joined the practice from Wolf Theiss Rechtsanwalte GmbH & CoKG in 2020.

Practice head(s):

Peter Lewisch; Hans Kristoferitsch; Stefan Huber

Other key lawyers:

Benjamin Twardosz; Holger Bielesz

Testimonials

‘The reputation and expertise of Cerha Hempel in white-collar crime defence is second-to-none in the market. In particular, team members of Cerha Hempel are market leaders in the field of white-collar crime defence and working together with them in multi-jurisdictional cases is a guarantee for outstanding services for clients.’

‘They are extremely reliable and fast and are not limited to a certain field of law but always willing to think out of the box. They are very reliable and fast and excellent white-collar crime litigators. In Austria, there is no other firm combining excellence in white-collar crime practice with the services of a full-service law firm at such a high level.’

‘I have worked regularly with Peter Lewisch. He is surely and deservedly considered to be one of the market leaders in white-collar crime defence. I am always impressed how swiftly he understands complex circumstances and presents solutions.’

‘Hans Kristoferitsch has been our main contact for years. He is very reliable and accurate and, most importantly, an excellent lawyer.’

‘Holger Bielesz: accurate, responsive, proactive and very knowledgeable.’

Key clients

Directors and board members of Vienna Stadterweiterungsfonds

GATX Rail Austria GmbH

Romanian businessman

Bulgarian buusinessman

Wiener Stadtwerke/Wien Energie GmbH

Work highlights

  • After almost a decade of investigations, the defence team won a not guilty verdict for four high-ranking officials from the Federal Ministry of the Interior in embezzlement and abuse of power charges.
  • Representing a Bulgarian businessman who has been accused of online fraud.
  • Assisted an energy sector company with an internal investigation following allegations of fraud within a company.

KNOETZL HAUGENEDER NETAL

KNOETZL HAUGENEDER NETAL's strength lies in handling matters that crossover between civil and criminal law, and it is noted for its robust asset tracing capabilities. Natascha Tunkel, who is also well versed in asset recovery and criminal investigations as well as asset tracing, and Judith Schacherreiter, who is equally experienced in handling fraud-related matters, were promoted to the partnership in 2020. The practice is led by Bettina Knoetzl, who handles a broad spectrum of civil and criminal work. The team acts for companies and individuals in fraud, criminal and business-irregularity investigations and provides regular compliance advice.

Practice head(s):

Bettina Knoetzl

Other key lawyers:

Tim Pfister; Judith Schacherreiter; Natascha Tunkel; Thomas Voppichler

Testimonials

‘One of the best white-collar practices in Austria. The team is highly competent and experienced in all practice areas.’

‘We have used the firm for an asset tracing matter in Austria. It is difficult to imagine a better understanding of the mechanisms – civil and criminal that are in play when trying to recoup missing assets (funds) – than that displayed by Knoetzl, especially Bettina Knoetzl and Thomas Voppichler with whom we have been working.’

‘Bettina Knoetzl and Thomas Voppichler – always on the ball and persistently working their way through the bureaucracy of banks and prosecutors to secure release of the stolen funds to the clients. Always cordial and quick to respond. Following up with outside parties that need to deliver. In essence an excellent understanding of their specialty not only in legal terms but just as much and very importantly the practicalities that need to be overcome to achieve results.’

‘Bettina Knoetzl is highly recommended.’

Key clients

Heinz Schaden, former mayor of Salzburg

Work highlights

  • Acted for Heinz Schaden, former mayor of Salzburg, in an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights seeking a judgment condemning the Republic of Austria for its conviction of the client following a financial transaction.

Wolf Theiss Rechtsanwalte GmbH & CoKG

Individuals and corporations regularly retain Wolf Theiss Rechtsanwalte GmbH & CoKG to assist with a range of white-collar criminal law matters, many of which feature cross-border elements, such as asset recovery and asset tracing, internal investigations and criminal proceedings pertaining to allegations of fraud and bribery. Commercial litigation and white-collar criminal defence expert Clemens Trauttenberg heads the practice, which includes Nikolaus Loudon, who was promoted to counsel in May 2020 and is noted for his experience in criminal defence work.

Practice head(s):

Clemens Trauttenberg

Other key lawyers:

Valerie Hohenberg; Nikolaus Loudon

Testimonials

‘I work with Wolf Theiss in Austria, Slovenia and Serbia on a complex internal investigation. I would highly recommend them for white-collar crime work in Eastern Europe. What stands out in particular is the strength of their lawyers in all these jurisdictions. They work very well as one team across offices and provide timely, thorough and practical advice.’

‘Strong team, good to work with, fast communication.’

‘Valerie Hohenberg stands out. She is very responsive, thoughtful and a practical thinker. She also exhibits business acumen and flexibility in her thinking which is much appreciated where clients have competing legal demands to contend with. I think this really distinguishes her from some other local counsels I have worked with, who tend to be very rigid in their views and approach.’

‘Clemens Trauttenberg works in a very detailed way.’

Key clients

Airbus Defence and Space GmbH

National Bank Trust

Cevdet Caner

Work highlights

  • Acting for Airbus Defence and Space GmbH (former EADS Deutschland GmbH) in different proceedings pertaining to the sale of 18 Eurofighter Typhoon military aircrafts to the Republic of Austria.
  • Representing real estate investor Cevdet Caner in criminal proceedings started after several years of investigative proceedings. Allegations include money laundering and investment fraud pertaining to real-estate bonds.

Baker McKenzie Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG

Baker McKenzie Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG has recently been particularly active in assisting with internal investigations and associated criminal proceedings as well as compliance matters. The team predominately acts for corporate clients across various sectors such as construction, finance and energy but also advises individuals. Alexander Petsche is a key contact for the implementation of compliance management systems; he jointly heads the practice with former public prosecutor Georg Krakow, who acts for corporates and business executives in criminal law proceedings and advises on compliance and risk analysis matters.

Practice head(s):

Georg Krakow; Alexander Petsche

Testimonials

‘Perfect combination of legal and compliance know-how, excellent global network.’

‘Alexander Petsche: convincing, excellent to work with, hands-on practical approach, high level of service. Excellent rhetoric and speech – convincing in trainings and gets people committed and on-board.’

Key clients

Österreichische Nationalbank

Work highlights

  • Assisting Österreichische Nationalbank (National Bank of Austria) with an internal investigation concerning internal decisions and the submission of a report to the bank’s general council.

BRANDL TALOS Attorneys at law

BRANDL TALOS Attorneys at law has a strong profile for work at the intersection with corporate and capital markets law, which is not least due to team head Christopher Schrank's expertise in this area. This leads to regular instructions from banks, companies and executives, who require assistance with criminal defence proceedings as well as compliance matters and criminal investigations. Schrank is supported by associate Alexander Stücklberger, who specialises in defence and asset recovery cases, including those with cross-border elements.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Schrank

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Stücklberger

Testimonials

‘B&T has an amazing team of professionals who not only know what they do but do it with passion and dedication. Anything you put into their hands, you feel safe and very well taken care of. I have never seen this dedication to detail and passion to perform in other law firms I have been working with.’

‘In my opinion, the strength of Brandl & Talos lies in handling white-collar crime cases, because in addition to criminal law know-how, corporate law know-how is also necessary (which classical defense lawyers do not have). Brandl & Talos has very good references in this area, which is why I decided to work with Brandl & Talos for my case (a major criminal case).’

‘The strength of Brandl & Talos certainly lies at the interface of criminal law and corporate/capital market law. There are only a few law firms that offer this one-stop service.’

‘Christopher Schrank is an outstanding individual when it comes to white-collar crime, compliance or regulatory matters.’

‘I mainly worked with Christopher Schrank. In my opinion, he perfectly combines his background in corporate and capital market law with his experience in criminal law. Therefore, white-collar crime cases are in very good hands with him. In addition to his thoughts on procedural strategy, I was particularly impressed by the quality of his written submissions.’

‘My main contact person is Christopher Schrank. Due to his profound understanding of corporate law, he is able to perfectly analyse commercial activities in the field of criminal law and recognises the crucial points of a case. He knows how to handle big white-collar crime cases.’

Alexander Stückelberger has delivered amazing advice, timely and without mistakes.’

Key clients

Owner of Novomatic AG

BayWa AG

Several leading employees of STRABAG SE

Former CEO of Novomatic AG

Former board members of bwin AG

Work highlights

  • Defending Johann Graf, ultimate beneficial owner of Novomatic AG, in criminal proceedings pertaining to the alleged bribery of members of the Austrian cabinet to receive gaming licences in Austria as well as alleged tax evasion.
  • Together with BayWa’s group audit team, the team conducted an internal investigation into a major Austrian subsidiary for alleged fraud, breach of trust and tax evasion.
  • Defending a large number of STRABAG AG executives against allegations of bid collusion in regard to various public tender proceedings for major construction projects.

DORDA Rechtsanwälte GmbH

DORDA Rechtsanwälte GmbH acts for corporates and individuals in criminal proceedings and civil claims pertaining to accusations of fraud, embezzlement, bribery and corruption, while also regularly representing clients in criminal investigations and tax-related defence proceedings, including those spanning various jurisdictions. Other areas of expertise include compliance and preventive advice. Commercial litigator and arbitrator Florian Kremslehner heads the practice, which includes junior partner and criminal law expert Daniela Firulovic.

Practice head(s):

Florian Kremslehner

Other key lawyers:

Daniela Firulovic

Testimonials

‘Seamless communication within the team and all parties involved. Full commitment and proactive advice for the client, also in terms of feasibility and costs!’

You always know you’re in good hands and receive top-quality legal support and service!

Great work and results! Thank you!

‘Dorda offers legal services and economic know-how of the highest standard. They always aim at achieving the best possible solution as quickly as possible.’

‘Professional competence even beyond national borders is very important for an internationally active company like ours and is also very well served by Dorda and its employees.’

‘Florian Kremslehner has been at our side for many years for the big and small questions and there is a very strong relationship of trust. New members of his team always give the impression of having a very good mentor at their side.’

‘For many, many years, the dispute resolution practice of Dorda delivers outstanding legal advice. Florian Kremslehner is an impressive lawyer and the shining patron of the entire team. One of the most impressive quality of Florian Kremslehner is that he always discovers and develops young talents. This is what made the team’s quality at partner and especially at senior associate level so outstanding over the last 4-5 years ’

‘Stand-out partner: Florian Kremslehner has extensive knowledge and unrivalled skills in strategic questions; has been an impressive litigation lawyer for many years and is also highly skilled in criminal law.’

Daniela Firulovic is a rising star in the field, she has outstanding knowledge in criminal law, handles the case work with so much commitment, she is always the best prepared in any trial, achieves great results for her clients. Overall, Daniela Firulovic is an highly impressive lawyer and an outstanding future leader.

‘Daniela Firulovic took excellent care of us, using all her knowledge and expertise as well as proactively communicating with the authorities to stay a step ahead!’

‘As a long-time client of Dorda’s white-collar crime department, I am still impressed by the team’s dedication and hard work in my case. The members of the team, especially Daniela Firulovic, are outstanding personalities. As a client, I always have the feeling that my matter is handled as top-priority. Also from a strategic standpoint, Daniela Firulovic and the team are always at least one step ahead of the opposing counsels. It is impressive to see that Dorda’s white-collar crime department delivers high-level legal advice with such a consistent quality.’

‘I work mainly with Daniela Firulovic. She is always on top of my case. As a client, you always get the feeling to be best protected, and she always delivers excellent results. In negotiations she is always the best prepared, combined with her outstanding strategic skills she is the best adviser you can ask for as a client. Daniela Firulovic is an outstanding criminal law attorney with strong legal knowledge and an highly winning personality. I personally recommend Daniela to all of my contacts.’

Key clients

IMMOFINANZ

Work highlights

  • Represented IMMOFINANZ AG in connection with several criminal investigations against former members of the board, including Karl Petrikovics.

KOLLMANN, WOLM RECHTSANWÄLTE

Criminal law boutique KOLLMANN, WOLM RECHTSANWÄLTE is well equipped to guide clients, most notably individuals but also corporate entities, through criminal defence proceedings and internal investigations pertaining to fraud, bribery, breach of trust and corruption, while also providing compliance advice. Lukas Kollmann, who is particularly active in matters concerning embezzlement and corruption allegations, jointly heads the practice with Philipp Wolm, whose expertise includes financial criminal law.

Practice head(s):

Lukas Kollmann; Philipp Wolm

Testimonials

‘Very strong in trials. Strong contacts to law enforcement, prosecutors and courts which gives an edge advantage in defence work. Thinks well ahead and is very proactive.’

‘Lukas Kollmann: strong in strategic thinking and with good contacts into judiciary.’

Key clients

Austrian Research and Development Company (FFG)

Globe Personal Services

Work highlights

  • Defending an accused CFO in the BUWOG proceeding pertaining to the privatisation of federal apartments in Austria.
  • Representing an individual in proceedings pertaining to an alleged nursery school subsidy fraud.

petsche pollak attorneys at law

Dispute resolution boutique petsche pollak attorneys at law acts for corporates and senior managers - many of which stem from the construction and real estate sector - in proceedings pertaining to allegations of fraud, corruption, embezzlement and abuse of trust and frequently involve procurement and competition-related matters. This offering includes assistance with investigations by the public prosecutor and internal investigations. Advising on the implementation of whistleblowing systems constitutes another area of key expertise, as does advising on white-collar criminal law issues arising from commercial disputes. Litigation and white-collar criminal law expert Simone Petsche-Demmel jointly heads the practice with former public prosecutor Andreas Pollak.

Practice head(s):

Simone Petsche-Demmel; Andreas Pollak

Testimonials

‘Very good combination of competition law and criminal law know-how. Maintain an overview even in very large cases.’

‘Boutique law firm approach. Specialised and dedicated.’

‘I mainly deal with Simone Petsche-Demmel. I appreciate her professional knowledge and also her very cooperative and constructive manner, which makes it possible to proceed in a concerted manner.’

Due to Andreas Pollak’s professional background as a prosecutor, he is very strong in the area of criminal procedural law and is also good at anticipating the thinking of prosecutors.

‘Andreas Pollak is a great criminal lawyer. He used to be a public prosecutor which gives him the additional experience often needed in white-collar crime cases.’

‘Andreas Pollak is very practical and hands-on. Great to work with.’

‘Particular insider knowledge of Andreas Pollak because of having formerly been a prosecutor himself. Sound practical knowledge combined with hands-on mentality.’

Key clients

Austrian Development Agency

Borealis Group

STRABAG AG

Work highlights

  • Defending one of the largest European construction companies in a case of alleged illicit agreements restraining competition in connection with public tenders.
  • Successfully defending one of the largest real estate developers and investment companies in Austria against the allegations of bribes made to political parties and a governor in the course of the acquisition of several real estate properties.
  • Defending senior managers against the suspicion of corruption and fraud related to the public procurement of military equipment by the Austrian government.

PHH Rechtsanwälte

PHH Rechtsanwälte predominately acts for individuals, who face allegations of fraud, bribery, embezzlement and breach of trust, in criminal proceedings and investigations, while also handling associated media management. While the team's focus lies on defendant work, it also represents claimants. Dispute resolution and white-collar criminal expert Stefan Prochaska heads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Stefan Prochaska

Testimonials

‘Very competent.’

‘Smart, creative and friendly.’

‘Team head Stefan Prochaska is well known in the Austrian market and is always two steps ahead of the developments.’

Key clients

BaSe Immobilienhandel OG

Work highlights

  • Represented the former managing director of ODELGA Med GmbH in proceedings arising from allegations of breach of trust and bribery pertaining to the client’s role in the tender process for a Romanian hospital financed by the World Bank.
  • Representing an international businessman, who is accused of being involved in bribery and corruption as part of a major arms deal.
  • Represented the managing director and beneficial owner of Amabrush in securing an acquittal in an investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office for Finance and Corruption (WKStA) arising from an allegation of serious commercial fraud.

SOYER KIER STUEFER

SOYER KIER STUEFER has a fine reputation for its expertise in national and international criminal law and corporate crime work, and most notably for its criminal defence capabilities. Founding partners Richard Soyer and Roland Kier are the main contacts.

wkk law

Norbert Wess at wkk law is a regular fixture in some of Austria's most prominent criminal proceedings. He handles a wide range of national and international white-collar criminal law matters, including compliance and internal investigations.

Binder Grösswang

Binder Grösswang's white-collar criminal unit is part of the firm's dispute resolution practice, which leads to regular instructions at the intersection between civil and criminal law, including internal investigations and compliance. Recent work includes matters arising from allegations of tax evasion, fraud, embezzlement and bribery. Team head Stefan Albiez is also experienced in handling industrial espionage matters.

Practice head(s):

Stefan Albiez

Other key lawyers:

Christian Klausegger

Testimonials

‘The team is very straightforward, quick and efficient.’

‘They are commercial and understand our business; they have a TNT (Today-Not-Tomorrow) mentality.’

‘Stefan Albiez: has great courtroom presence, wonderful briefs, a great white-collar defence lawyer.’

Key clients

ShareWood Switzerland AG

SIG-Seeliegenschaftengesellschaft Kärnten Verwaltungs GmbH

William Koch

ERSTE Bank Group

Immoconsult Group

immigon portfolioabbau ag

Microtec Group

Nokia Austria

Work highlights

  • Representing SIG-Seeliegenschaftengesellschaft Kärnten Verwaltungs GmbH, a subsidiary of the Province of Carinthia, in several civil and criminal proceedings against former government officials, advisors, expert consultants and contract partners pertaining to the client’s purchase and lease of real estate in Carinthia. The disputes concern incorrect expert opinions, fee agreements and associated suspicions of fraudulent actions.
  • Represented the US-businessman William Koch as victim of a fraud in connection with fake wines (the so called Jefferson-Bottles-Scandal).
  • Acting for a major bank in criminal investigations arising from suspicions of large-scale fraud.

DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach

DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach's team is led by senior of counsel Thomas Kralik, who is noted for his experience defending clients in various proceedings and for his expertise in criminal investigations and compliance. Much of the team's work stems from the banking and finance sector but its client portfolio also includes corporates from various other industries alongside private clients.

Practice head(s):

Thomas Kralik

Other key lawyers:

Claudine Vartian; David Christian Bauer

Key clients

Hutchison Drei Austria GmbH

Ares Safety GmbH

Thomas Schmid (sole director of ÖBAG)

Work highlights

  • Representing the sole director of ÖBAG, Thomas Schmid, in matters pertaining to an illegal job-appointment linked to his political relations.

Schoenherr (Schönherr Rechtsanwälte)

Schoenherr (Schönherr Rechtsanwälte) has a strong profile for compliance-related work, which is an offering corporates from various industries make regular use of, but the team is also adept at providing advice on internal investigations and criminal proceedings pertaining to accusations of fraud, embezzlement, money-laundering and breach of trust. While its client base consists mostly of corporates, the practice, which is led by restructuring and insolvency expert Wolfgang Höller, also acts for individuals. Counsel Klara Kiehl is another key individual and handles a wide range of dispute resolution work with a focus on criminal law and criminal compliance.

Practice head(s):

Wolfgang Höller

Other key lawyers:

Klara Kiehl; Michael Lindtner

Testimonials

‘Very experienced and good communicators.’

‘Clear and succinct practical advice on Austrian criminal law and process.’

‘Michael Lindtner is an expert in his field of criminal law, especially in anti-money laundering aspects and victim protection.’

‘Michael Lindtner has been extremely reactive and easy to deal with.’

‘Klara Kiehl: excellent lawyer, goal-oriented, flexible and empathic.’