Firms To Watch: Dispute resolution: white-collar crime (including fraud)

With offices in Vienna, Graz and Linz, LeitnerLaw Attorneys at Law is well placed to defend individuals against allegations of fraud, embezzlement, bribery and accounting fraud, among other criminal allegations.
Johann Pauer heads up the team at the eponymous firm PauerLaw and is experienced in handling proceedings that are in the media spotlight such as defending Austria's former vice-chancellor against corruption and embezzlement charges.

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

Cerha Hempel

Cerha Hempel is a respected player representing individuals, including top management, and companies in investigative and court proceedings, which have recently included allegations of breach of trust, bid rigging, (tax) fraud and embezzlement. Alongside its criminal defence expertise, the team is equally well versed in handling international investigations and puts another focus on crime prevention and compliance advice. Key contacts include senior counsel and criminal law specialist Peter Lewisch, whose mandates routinely involve international elements, Hans Kristoferitsch, who frequently takes the lead in internal investigations, and Stefan Huber, who has a specialism in matters at the intersection between white-collar crime and export control law.

Other key lawyers:

Holger Bielesz

Testimonials

‘The team of Cerha Hempel is very knowledgeable and extremely responsive. It is able to advise clients on and represent them in the most complex white-collar crime matters with highly qualified staff.’

‘Univ.-Prof. DDr. Peter Lewisch is one of the most well-known criminal lawyers. Despite being very busy, he is still able to react very swiftly and, due to his wealth of knowledge, he is able to bring the most complex issues to the point very easily. Dr. Lewisch is an admirable practitioner, very competent and with a fair billing practice.’

‘Dr. Hans Kristoferitsch is another notable member of the Cerha Hempel team providing very excellent work and advice. Clearly this is due to his deep knowledge and experience in the field of white-collar crime law and practice.

‘We decided to work with Cerha Hempel because of their background in white-collar crime cases and the very good impression their specialised team and especially professor Peter Lewisch made on me personally.’

‘Our main contact is professor Peter Lewisch. Over the time we also worked with Mr. Stefan Huber. I can underline their extensive knowledge of the white- collar crime domain, sophisticated analysis of the procedural issues, well-organised working style, all in all, high professionalism.’

‘Peter Lewisch: I most appreciate his professional competence, i.e. deep understanding of the business processes (which is fundamental, in my opinion, for success in white-collar crime cases), innovative approach of the legal issues, out-of-the-box thinking, friendly attitude, extensive availability.’

‘Cerha Hempel’s white-collar crime practice is to be considered top notch in Austria. It is known for its vast knowledge in criminal law and able to deliver outstanding results.’

‘The fabulous Prof. Peter Lewisch is undoubtedly one of Austria’s top defence attorneys. His legal knowledge and his ability to understand the issues of a case in no time are second to none in the industry. He is surely the safest bet one can make when a white collar-crime issue arises in Austria.’

Key clients

GATX Rail Austria GmbH

Wiener Stadtwerke / Wien Energie GmbH

STRABAG SE

Work highlights

  • Secured an acquittal for four high-ranking officials from the Federal Ministry of the Interior in embezzlement and abuse of power charges.
  • Acted for a Bulgarian businessman subjected to online fraud allegations, avoiding an extradition request from Germany.

KNOETZL HAUGENEDER NETAL

Built upon its strength in litigation (and dispute resolution in general), KNOETZL HAUGENEDER NETAL is best known for its capabilities handling matters at the intersection between criminal and civil law, including asset tracing, which are routinely called upon by companies across various industries and individuals (such as high-net-worth individuals, executives and directors). Typical work pertains to allegations of embezzlement, fraud, money laundering, breach of trust and price fixing and includes internal investigations. Litigator and asset tracing specialist Bettina Knoetzl heads the practice, which includes head of investigations Natascha Tunkel.

Practice head(s):

Bettina Knoetzl

Testimonials

‘They have a deep understanding of the particular issues and relevant laws and regulations involved in the matters they have handled for us. They are efficient and well organised. Excellent language capabilities, both written and verbal.

‘We have worked with two attorneys in this firm – Bettina Knoetzl and Thomas Voppichler. They are both excellent attorneys.’

‘Very competent team with extremely high creativity and competence in conducting the proceedings. Always available and very communicative.’

‘With her great experience and competence, Bettina Knoetzl made a decisive contribution to ending the proceedings positively (discontinuation of the criminal financial proceedings).’

‘Bettina Knoetzl is the best lawyer in Vienna I worked with. She is very enthusiastic and provides consistent and good support. I have worked with her on a few mandates and would recommend her to all clients. She stands out as a great mind with large commercial experience and cutting edge legal knowledge.’ 

‘Very good team with fast response and to-the-point advice in white-collar crime and fraud matters.’

‘Bettina Knoetzl is a very good criminal lawyer advising in a very responsive way. Comes to the point quickly and is able to deliver also under great time-pressure.’

‘Thomas Voppichler is a very good criminal lawyer working in the team of Bettina Knoetzl with a fast response and to-the-point advice in complex criminal law matters.

Work highlights

  • Acting for the former mayor of Salzburg in an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights challenging his conviction over his involvement in interest rate swap trades.

Wolf Theiss

Wolf Theiss provides individuals and corporations, including victims of criminal conduct, with combined civil and criminal law expertise, which, thanks to its strong network, spans various jurisdictions with particular strength in Russia-related work. The team led by Clemens Trauttenberg advises on criminal and civil proceedings pertaining to allegations of fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and money laundering, among other matters, as well as associated investigations. Counsel Nikolaus Loudon is a key contact for internal investigations and routinely advises corporations as victims of criminal conduct in criminal proceedings.

Practice head(s):

Clemens Trauttenberg

Testimonials

Extraordinarily professional and reliable, broad and deep capabilities and expertise across the disciplines and segments, highly client and success-oriented, international network.

Outstandingly engaged for the client, effective and discreet. Very high adversarial quality. Able to take the full view including factors like politics, reputation, public, media. Highly responsive and available. Extremely easy to work with. High technical competence, intelligence and ethics.

Wolf Theiss is well known and extremely good in solving white-collar crime matters.

Key clients

Cevdet Caner

Aggregate Holdings S.A.

Airbus Defence and Space GmbH

National Bank Trust

Work highlights

  • Representing a real estate investor in criminal proceedings started after several years of investigative proceedings.
  • Representing a real estate investment company in a post-M&A dispute which includes the suspicion of fraud, insider trading and giving wrong evidence at court on the opponent’s side.

BRANDL TALOS Attorneys at law

BRANDL TALOS Attorneys at law has a strong track record defending individuals and companies, most notably from the real estate, banking and entertainment sectors, against allegations of bribery, embezzlement, market abuse and investor and accounting fraud, while also routinely handling matters that crossover between white-collar crime and corporate law and capital markets law respectively. Team head Christopher Schrank's expertise extends to litigation and internal investigations; he is supported by associate Alexander Stücklberger, who has a specialism in defence and asset recovery work, which routinely includes cross-border elements.

Practice head(s):

Christopher Schrank

Other key lawyers:

Alexander Stücklberger

Testimonials

‘A very dedicated and reliable team with excellent expertise in white-collar crime. Working with the team turns out to be very reliable and also instructive.’

‘Christopher Schrank: A top lawyer in his field. Instructive professional exchange is guaranteed in cooperation with him.’

‘Alexander Stücklberger: A dedicated and confident young lawyer with extensive expertise.

‘This is a very dedicated, collegial and down-to-earth team with extensive expertise in, among other things, white-collar criminal law. Even with large cases, they are very well prepared and know the files down to the smallest detail. They are always available and great to work with.’

‘Alexander Stücklberger is highly intelligent and always well prepared for his proceedings with comprehensive knowledge. The professional exchange of opinions with him is always very instructive. It is impossible to imagine the criminal defence front without him.’

‘Strong team around partner Christopher Schrank in white-collar crime.’

‘Christopher Schrank is a leading individual in white-collar crime matters.’

‘These lawyers know and understand business as much as they do law, and act to address the economic, capital markets, tax as well as corporate aspects of the case. It is rare to find this business understanding, combined with a broad-reaching expertise in capital markets law, corporate law and criminal law, all at an equally high level. The team is very hard-working, and I was impressed by their ability to work fast and precise despite the size of the case and the amount of information.’

Key clients

BayWa AG

Kuratorium Wiener Pensionisten-Wohnhäuser

Autobank Aktiengesellschaft (Autobank Corporation)

Work highlights

  • Defending the beneficial owner of Novomatic AG in criminal proceedings over allegedly bribing members of the Austrian cabinet in order to receive gaming licenses in Austria, as well as over alleged tax evasion.
  • Defending the former CEO of Austria’s largest housing companies against accusations of embezzlement.
  • Together with BayWa AG’s group audit team, conducting an internal investigation into a major Austrian subsidiary for alleged fraud, breach of trust and tax evasion.

DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach Rechtsanwälte GmbH

DLA Piper Weiss-Tessbach's white-collar crime practice received a significant boost with the arrival of former public prosecutor Georg Krakow and his team from Baker McKenzie Rechtsanwälte LLP & Co KG in August 2021. He took over the practice from Thomas Kralik, who remains with the firm as senior of counsel. The group's client portfolio consists of individuals, including high-net-worth individuals and political figures, and companies with the former receiving assistance with criminal disputes and the latter with internal investigations, fiscal criminal matters and compliance. It also acts for companies as damaged parties.

Practice head(s):

Georg Krakow

Other key lawyers:

Thomas Kralik; Claudine Vartian

Testimonials

Georg Krakow has a good understanding of customer needs.

Immediately active on short notice.

Very high and deep legal knowledge and application.

We worked with Georg Krakow. His intense knowledge of the public sector and expertise in criminal investigations was a great asset with regard to a difficult case of fraud of a (former) employee. He offered a great combination of criminal law skills (white-collar crime) and organisational knowledge with regard to the implementation of compliance systems.

Georg Krakow’s extensive knowledge of the Austrian public sector and his experience as a former public prosecutor helped us choose the right strategy for our case. What made the experience unique was that he used the mentioned skills to provide a set of solutions and was ready to take immediate action. His experience gave us great confidence in our decisions.

DORDA Rechtsanwälte GmbH

DORDA Rechtsanwälte GmbH acts for individuals and corporates in investigative, civil and criminal proceedings arising from allegations of embezzlement, tax evasion and misappropriation of funds, among other matters, and also acts for victims of such offences. Providing compliance advice and assistance with associated systems, such as anti-corruption schemes, constitutes another key element of the team led by Daniela Firulovic. Her practice is part of the firm's wider dispute resolution offering led by Florian Kremslehner. This integral approach was further underlined by the partner promotion of Stephan Steinhofer (expertise in arbitration, litigation and white-collar crime) in March 2021.

Other key lawyers:

Stephan Steinhofer

Testimonials

‘Has a good market standing. They are acting in quite a fresh way and not as the typical criminal lawyers. It is fun to work with the team on complex cases also with an international background.’

‘Stephan Steinhofer leads the team in a very profound way. He stays cool in tricky situations and gives the client a safe feeling.

‘Daniela Firulovic contributes to the team‘s success. She is very strong and convincing.

‘Immediate support even on weekends; excellent trouble shooting.’

‘Daniela Firulovic: Excellent handling of criminal law aspects and legal advisory but also the legal preparation of the criminal report to the public prosecution.’

‘In our criminal law-related matters, Daniela Firulovic is our main contact. Daniela Firulovic is an excellent criminal defence attorney, she is always on top of our cases, we trust her advice unconditionally. Daniela reacts incredibly quickly to our requests, her legal work is high-quality and she delivers the results we are aiming for.’

‘We were absolutely stunned by Daniela Firulovic’s ability to think ‘outside the box’ and find solutions to every obstacle in our cases. In her advice, she always takes the ‘big picture’ into account. We feel very blessed that Daniela is handling our most important and delicate matters.’

‘Dorda’s white-collar crime team offers excellent legal advice and outstanding representation in criminal proceedings. You get top-notch results delivered, the response time is impressively fast and you feel like you’re getting the best advice.

KOLLMANN, WOLM RECHTSANWÄLTE

Criminal law boutique KOLLMANN, WOLM RECHTSANWÄLTE is a respected player for criminal defence work with a focus on the defence of individuals against allegations of fraud, corruption, bribery and breach of trust, while companies receive assistance with investigative proceedings. Lukas Kollmann, who is particularly experienced in defending management against embezzlement and corruption allegations, jointly heads the practice with Philipp Wolm, whose experience extends to crime prevention and financial criminal law.

Practice head(s):

Lukas Kollmann; Philipp Wolm

Testimonials

‘A very dedicated, reliable and down-to-earth team with excellent expertise in white-collar crime. They are very reliable.’

‘Lukas Kollmann: He is characterized in particular by his reliable, calm and in-depth approach. He is very intelligent and always well prepared for his proceedings with comprehensive knowledge.’

‘The expertise in white-collar crime (Lukas Kollmann) and criminal law (Phillip Wolm) is an outstanding combination and allows this practice to handle a wide range of different cases. Therefore the practice is widely known at criminal courts all over Austria.’

‘Lukas Kollmann is one of the most strategic and analytic attorneys in the field of white-collar crime. He is outstanding in handling huge cases, that are complex and challenging.’

‘Deep experience in cross-border fraud cases for multinationals.’

‘Lukas Kollmann is one of the best defence lawyers in Austria.’

‘Very strong practice in individual defence; high degree of strategic, proactive thinking.’

‘Lukas Kollmann: very responsive, strong communicator and strategist.’

Work highlights

  • Defending an accused CFO in the BUWOG proceeding pertaining to the privatisation of federal apartments in Austria.

petsche pollak attorneys at law

Dispute resolution boutique petsche pollak attorneys at law combines its litigation and white-collar criminal law capabilities to act for corporates, and to a lesser extent for individuals, faced with allegations of embezzlement, (tax) fraud, bribery and breach of trust, including those pertaining to procurement proceedings. Other work includes the implementation of whistleblowing systems. Litigator and white-collar crime expert Simone Petsche-Demmel co-heads the practice with former public prosecutor Andreas Pollak.

Testimonials

‘Petsche Pollak is well experienced in the area of commercial criminal law.’

‘Petsche Pollak is a very good team player and therefore also ideally suited to handle large white-collar criminal cases in cooperation with other defence lawyers.

‘Simone Petsche-Demmel is a very good contract lawyer, which is why she is also able to understand the economic connections in the area of criminal law.

Andreas Pollak, who used to work as a public prosecutor, can therefore anticipate the mindset of a public prosecutor well.’

‘A very dedicated and reliable team with excellent knowledge in the field of white-collar crime. Very reliable.’

‘It is a great pleasure to work with Simone Petsche. In particular, the professional exchange – conducted at a high level – is always very instructive.’

‘Petsche Pollak stands out for the breadth of its experience in business crime and regulation, the sophistication of its response to the range of issues thrown up by this fast-moving field, and the cool assessment the firm brings to crisis management on behalf of clients. Their ability to ‘gel’ with experts and advisors from across Europe is also notable, making them a firm with true cross-border ability and a focused and reliable ally in cross-border advisory work.’

‘We have worked primarily with Andreas Pollak, who deploys his very considerable knowledge as a former prosecutor to great effect, seemingly effortlessly anticipating the moves of prosecutors and regulators.’

‘The synergies which Andreas Pollak creates with international teams of advisors is a real standout skill, making him our preferred choice of trusted legal advisor when issues arise with an Austrian business crime angle. His ability to adapt to differing legal systems and to take advantage of the opportunities this can bring for his clients demonstrates a valuable suppleness of mind.’

Key clients

STRABAG Group

Borealis Group

Austrian Development Agency

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 allegation of bribes paid 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 pertaining to the public procurement of military equipment by the Austrian government.

Binder Grösswang

Binder Grösswang assists corporates, financial institutions and public sector bodies with internal investigations into allegations of embezzlement, bribery, breach of trust and fraud as well as with investigations conducted by various authorities such as financial market and tax authorities. To a lesser extent, it also acts for individuals including those who have fallen victim to white-collar crimes. As an integral part of the firm's dispute resolution practice, the team led by Stefan Albiez, whose expertise extends to industrial espionage, is also well placed to handle associated litigation.

Practice head(s):

Stefan Albiez

Other key lawyers:

Christian Klausegger

Testimonials

‘We highly appreciate the very high quality of legal advice including capital market issues and proceedings before courts and the public prosecutor. They are very reliable, always on time and deliver solutions with a win-win approach.’

‘Dr. Stefan Albiez is a very smart negotiator, a very good lawyer and always keeps the best for his client in mind.’

‘The team led by partner Dr. Stefan Albiez has a vast understanding of dispute resolution cases. Given its leading role in many legal fields, the firm has immediate access to legal experts when it comes to white-collar issues. The team is acting swiftly with a practical approach and an understanding for the clients’ needs.’

‘Stefan Albiez is a great listener and provides pragmatic solutions after having considered the relevant options.’

‘The white-collar crime team is very experienced, both in terms of classical knowledge of good case handling and client care, which is also evidenced by the impressive number of mandates.’

The firm stands out for its discreet and professional handling of matters.’

‘The team is characterised above all by its empathy and simultaneous professionalism in the implementation of solutions tailored specifically to the individual client.’

Key clients

ShareWood Switzerland AG

SIG-Seeliegenschaftengesellschaft Kärnten Verwaltungs GmbH (Province of Carinthia)

Euronet Payment Service Ltd

ERSTE Bank Group

Immoconsult Group

Ria Financial Services Austria GmbH

Microtec S.r.l.

Nokia Solutions and Networks Österreich GmbH

Nachtragsverteilungsmasse (Province of Carinthia)

Lenzing AG

Work highlights

  • Representation of the Province of Carinthia in several criminal (and civil) proceedings against former advisors, expert consultants and current contract partners in connection with suspicions of fraud, embezzlement and breach of trust of the client’s former directors.
  • Representation of a famous US-businessman as victim of a fraud in connection with fake wines (the so-called Jefferson-Bottles-Scandal).
  • Representation of Nokia as victim in criminal proceedings against the former CEO.

PHH Rechtsanwälte GmbH

PHH Rechtsanwälte GmbH's clients are typically individuals, such as directors, senior staff and high-net-worth individuals, who require representation in criminal investigation proceedings following allegations of embezzlement, bribery, breach of trust and commercial fraud as well as with associated media management. The firm's recent establishment of a CIS Desk emphasises its geographical focus on this region. Stefan Prochaska heads the practice and complements the team's white-collar crime offering with expertise in litigation and arbitration.

Practice head(s):

Stefan Prochaska

Testimonials

‘I can only compare internationally, but can state that PHH provides excellent consulting with high competence and close client contact. PHH works hard to solve my long-term case. Communication has been easy.’

‘Mr. Prochaska is a bright and fast thinking lawyer, who I believe has got very good skills and sentiment to coordinate my case with the relevant authorities. He is very solution-oriented and outspoken with regard to the most complex issues, as the case is politically relevant and certain other parties are involved.’

‘Very good and versatile team, fast response times and good advice, always to the point, in white-collar crime matters, including fraud.’

‘Stefan Prochaska is a very good lawyer with great experience in the white-collar crime arena and provides quick and understandable advice also in very complex matters.

‘Very present on the market, very modern structure.

‘Stefan Prochaska is a really good strategy lawyer. He gives good advice not only on legal issues but also in respect of common issues/ decisions.

Work highlights

  • Advising the founders, former directors and supervisory board members of the Austrian Wienwert company group in an ongoing criminal investigation into embezzlement.
  • Advising a managing director of a construction company on allegations of commercial fraud, fraudulent dishonesty, favouring a creditor and grossly negligent impairment of a creditor’s interests.

Schoenherr (Schönherr Rechtsanwälte)

Schoenherr (Schönherr Rechtsanwälte)'s combined criminal and civil law expertise leads to regular mandates from companies, public institutions and damaged parties requiring assistance with the implementation of compliance programmes and internal investigations. Christoph Haid is the main contact in this space but also handles matters at the intersection with competition law. He co-heads the practice with insolvency and restructuring expert Wolfgang Höller, who advises on preventative measures such as anti-corruption compliance programmes. Counsel Klara Kiehl is the key contact for criminal proceedings and criminal compliance and also acts for individuals. In September 2021 criminal compliance and anti-corruption law expert Michael Lindtner left the firm.

Practice head(s):

Wolfgang Höller; Christoph Haid

 

Other key lawyers:

Klara Kiehl

Testimonials

Very responsive, always good quality work, collaborative approach.

Christoph Haid is very responsive and coordinates great legal support within the Schönherr offices.

Klara Kiehl and Wolfgang Höller are experts in the field of white-collar crime with excellent local expertise and very collaborative in client work.’

Very diligent, quick and extremely high-quality advice in sensitive matters.

Dr. Klara Kiehl always delivers and at the same time is very empathic and able to very quickly understand not only the legal issues at hand but also the overall implications for the business operation.

Klara Kiehl is smart, quick and always to the point. She provides practical advice.