Fraud and white-collar crime in Belgium
Allen & Overy LLP
Renowned litigator Joost Everaert heads the white-collar crime and investigations department at Allen & Overy LLP, which handles due diligence issues, compliance programmes, regulatory enquiries and high-level prosecutions. Everaert continues to assist KV Mechelen following the much-publicised match-fixing, bribery and money laundering scandal in domestic football, which has been referred to as the largest criminal sports case in Belgium's history. Counsel Nanyi Kaluma is another name of note, with recent experience in cross-border fraud and customs law infringements.
Other key lawyers:
- Acting for Jupiler Pro League soccer club KV Mechelen in connection with the widely publicised match-fixing, bribery and money-laundering scandal in Belgian professional football (known as ‘Operation Clean Hands’ or ‘Operatie Propere Handen’).
Stibbe's experience ranges from corporate crime and money laundering to economic or tax fraud, as well as market manipulation. 'Top-notch' practice head Hans Van Bavel is 'outstanding on all levels', and leads a team recognised for providing 'sufficient balance between legal aspects and practical issues'. Van Bavel continues to act for the KBVB, which filed a civil party claim against players and teams from the Jupiler Pro League in the recent domestic football scandal. David Verwaerde is another key name, while associate Charlotte Conings also attracts praise for her 'knowledge and specialisation in cybercrime issues'.
Hans Van Bavel
Other key lawyers:
David Verwaede; Charlotte Coning
‘Hans Van Bavel is, in two words, top-notch, surrounded by a dedicated team. Legal analysis is always spot-on, with sufficient balance between the legal aspects and practical issues as to the client’s business. A true delight to work with.‘
‘Hans Van Bavel is outstanding on all levels, and thus more than correctly looked at as number one in Belgium. Charlotte Conings’ knowledge and specialisation in cybercrime issues is also noteworthy.‘
Bank Degroof Petercam
KBVB (Royal Belgian Football Association)
- Assisting the former president of the board of directors of Fortis Holdings in a judicial inquiry, which led to charges of forgery and market manipulation.
- Acting for PV Force in a fraud case related to green energy certificates.
- Advising a major Belgian Telecom operator on a press-sensitive corruption matter.
As a dispute resolution boutique, Arcas Law's focus is predominantly on complex litigation arising from fraud and white-collar cases involving money laundering, fraud and corruption. Its main players are practice co-heads Dirk Libotte and Joost Verlinden, who act for clients in the financial services, insurance, sports, transport and telecoms sectors. Libotte is particularly experienced in company or employee issues and deals with tax or human right issues, alongside negotiating out-of-court settlements with public prosecutors; Verlinden typically handles civil, as well as criminal and domicile-oriented, law mandates.
Dirk Libotte; Joost Verlinden
- Acting for a major shareholder and director of an international flooring company before the Brussels criminal court on charges of money laundering and forgery.
- Representing the interests of one of the Big Four in a case against the Nyrstar shareholders, following the restructuring of its worldwide mining and metal business for which the client acted as auditor.
- Advising ABInbev following the mass theft of beer and prompting large withdrawal operations which have resulted in significant losses.
With a multidisciplinary approach, DLA Piper handles financial fraud cases stemming from post-acquisitions and demergers, as well as gambling, bribery, customs and bankruptcy-related crimes. Led by Joris De Vos, who concentrates on corporate litigation and D&O liability cases, the practice's other areas of focus include damage control, managing reputational risks and providing guidance in fraud prevention and compliance. De Vos is supported by restructuring expert Ilse Van de Mierop, administrative and public law specialist Bob Martens and of counsel Christian Van Buggenhout.
Joris De Vos
Other key lawyers:
Ilse Van de Mierop; Bob Martens; Christian Van Buggenhout
- Representing 13,000 Deminor clients in the case of Lernout & Hauspie in order to claim compensation for several (now officially proven) crimes.
- Representing Sabena in its €2bn litigation (both a civil case and criminal case), based on a director’s liability and alleged criminal infractions, in order to claim compensation for the creditors.
- Acting for the National Railway Company of Belgium, which was a victim of fraud wherein fictitious services were being delivered and billed to the company, in prosecuting offenders and recovering money.
The 'sharp and professional' Tom Bauwens heads a criminal enforcement and compliance group at Eubelius with an 'excellent reputation' among clients in the banking, energy and industrial sectors. Work typically involves allegations of aiding and abetting tax fraud, money laundering, bribery and document forgery, with assistance also provided with due diligence issues or compliance programmes. Bauwens and associate Monica Rodriguez, known for her economic law and procedure nous, 'form a good team' when handling complex or more sensitive matters.
Other key lawyers:
‘Tom Bauwens and Monica Rodriguez form a good team.‘
‘A good firm with an excellent reputation. Enjoyable and professional. Easy to co-operate with.‘
‘Tom Bauwens is an exceptionally competent lawyer. Sharp and professional. Also understands the “big picture”. Pleasant to work with.‘
Arnaud (Mogi) Bayat
- Acting for Euroclear in relation to a stop and freezing order on its inter-company accounts, following suspicion of money laundering of assets belonging to the Gadaffi regime.
- Defending the lawyer of an international industrial group, accused (together with the beneficiary owners of the group) of organising a money laundering and tax fraud scheme.
- Defending the chair of the board of directors at an integrated mining and metals business, in ongoing judicial and FSMA investigations.
Everest's anti-fraud and corporate criminal law department is noted for its 'incredible attention-to-detail'. Matters involve instances of privacy law violation, money laundering, theft, embezzlement, forgery, and various computer or internet-related offences. Practice head Stijn De Meulenaer 'is a smart lawyer' who provides 'great legal insight' into tax regulations alongside the development and implementation of fraud-related prevention policies. Clients also recognise senior associate Mathieu Baert as 'extremely professional and knowledgeable' in sports-based crime and compliance, while associate Inge Tuyttens 'is a revelation'.
Stijn De Meulenaer
Other key lawyers:
Mathieu Baert; Inge Tuyttens
‘The team has the required knowledge to deal with complex matters, including litigation involving many parties. They are very much open to integrating comments received from their client, which makes for real teamwork, which is very positive.‘
‘Incredible attention-to-detail, extremely organised and very professional from day one. They respond in a very timely manner. Depth of knowledge of the law is paramount for us, especially in a foreign country, and they have it in abundance.‘
‘Personal contact is their strength.‘
‘Everest has profound experience with fraud investigations, which allows them to formulate a quick and efficient response to complex matters.‘
‘Practice head Stijn De Meulenaer is a smart lawyer with a strong legal knowledge and strategic insights.‘
‘Prioritised our task utilising many members of extra staff to make sure it was completed within the specific, short timeframe.‘
‘Stijn De Meulenaere is a specialist in fraud and white-collar crime, which when combined with his litigation experience, allows him to provide hands-on advice. Inge Tuyttens is a revelation and a very good associate who is hands-on and stands out in terms of case management in very complex litigation involving several parties.‘
‘Mathieu Baert is extremely professional and knowledgeable. He is conscientious and responds to all communication in a very timely manner, imparting his depth of knowledge and innovation. He is very committed to you as a client and makes it seem as though he is always on hand for you alone. He is diligent, organised and as such, when his associates have stepped in, it has afforded them the same level of commitment and diligence that Mathieu has shown throughout. I cannot fault them. Others to mention are Inge Tuyttens and all overseen by Stijn De Meulenaer.‘
‘Stijn De Meulenaer really tries to capture the needs of his client.‘
‘Partner Stijn De Meulenaer has great legal insight. He is very much on top of the files and has a great client contact.‘
Bank J.Van Breda & Co
Vlaamse Interuniversitaire Raad
Province of Antwerp (Tourism)
- Advising one of Belgium’s major banks and its fraud investigations team on the development and implementation of a new anti-fraud policy, as well as acting for the bank as a civil party in several criminal proceedings.
- Defending media outlet ROJ during criminal proceedings – inter alia before the Supreme Court of Belgium – regarding the prosecution of the Kurdish television and radio station, focusing on internet and media criminality and the freedom of speech.
- Acting for one of the world’s major sports federations as a civil party in an international match-fixing case involving several professional athletes.
HFW's fraud and white-collar crime team is led by Emmanuel Roger France, head of the firm's commodities department in Brussels and a specialist in fraud, asset recovery and freezing orders. Alongside Roger France, senior associate An Schurmans assists with all matters, with a particular focus on criminal business law as well as liability following fatal occupational accidents. The practice's wider caseload ranges from corporate corruption and cyber-oriented matters for clients in the financial, economic, social and environmental sectors. It also assists with the construction and enforcement of compliance schemes.
Emmanuel Roger France
Other key lawyers:
Beobank (formerly Citibank)
Armands RASA (liquidator of Trasta Komercbanka)
- Assisting Allnex Belgium following instances of invoice fraud, where two invoices were falsified and a different bank account was mentioned on each.
- Defending Banque Nagelmackers in several criminal litigation and asset recovery cases against debtors of the bank.
- Defending a former HSBC employee in proceedings relating to the alleged international organised serious tax fraud the bank has been accused of.
At Liedekerke Wolters Waelbroeck Kirkpatrick, the fraud and compliance practice leverages its experience in corporate advisory and procedural matters from the financial, healthcare and environmental sectors. Practice head Magda Vandebotermet specialises in white-collar cases and resolving issues relating to labour law and social security, with further experience handling waste or disposal infringements and anti-money laundering. Alongside associate Anne-Catherine Standaert, Vandebotermet also advises clients concerned over potential criminal liability, prior to any culpable conduct, and assists with internal compliance plans.
Other key lawyers:
- Assisting a client in the consultancy sector with a criminal investigation concerning bribery, misuse of corporate assets, illegal taking of interests and breach of trust.
- Assisting a European institution as a claimant in proceedings before the Supreme Court related to forgery, fraud and public bribery.
- Assisting a leading firm in the health sector with an internal investigation concerning the alleged use of false documents by Belgian management.
Lydian's fraud and white-collar crime team has a strong track record during litigation proceedings and, particularly, with overseeing allegations of employee fraud. Co-led by Brussels-based pair Hugo Keulers and Jan Hofkens, and Antwerp-based Yves Lenders, the practice handles matters featuring privacy claims, whistle-blowing and dismissals for cause. Keulers has expertise in complex insurance and reinsurance disputes, with employment partner Hofkens leading on internal investigations and issues following company restructurings, while Lenders – a trained mediator – handles cases regarding criminal liability of directors and any workplace contractual concerns.
Hugo Keulers; Jan Hofkens; Yves Lenders
The Monard Law fraud and white-collar crime department draws on the wider firm's transactional, advisory and litigation practices, with a wide-reaching domestic presence across four cities. Led by financial and administrative law specialist Christiaan Barbier, recent cases have featured the misuse of forged documents and merchandise, tax fraud, bribery, money laundering and illegal waste haulage. Barbier is based in Brussels along with Frédéric Lettany, who works on computer-based and technological fraud, as well as suspected corporate embezzlements. Other offices are in Antwerp, Ghent and Hasselt.
Other key lawyers:
Deloitte's business criminal law and tax controversy department advises on economic crime or money laundering matters, with a private and corporate client roster featuring financial institutions, investment entities and real estate developers. Antwerp-based practice co-head Jürgen Egger is known for handling criminal proceedings before regulatory bodies, including the banking commission (FSMA), while fellow co-heads Annick Visschers and Johan Speecke – based in Brussels and Kortrijk, respectively – specialise in tax risk management, litigation and recovery between them.
Jürgen Egger; Annick Visschers; Johan Speecke
Hirsch & Vanhaelst
The team at Hirsch & Vanhaelst attract praise for its 'very pragmatic and strategic approach' to fraud and white-collar crime cases. In particular, practice head and name partner Michèle Hirsch stands out for her 'impressive legal and personal skills', as well as a presence in cross-border work involving European or international laws. Hirsch and her team, featuring 'talented and brilliant associates' including Sophie Colmant and Michael Fernandez-Bertier, have recently acted for clients during high-profile tax proceedings.
Other key lawyers:
Sophie Coleman; Michael Fernandez-Bertier
‘Michèle Hirsch and her team are absolutely outstanding criminal lawyers. Her partnership with Sophie Vanhaelst, a tax lawyer, gives a quite unique strength to this law firm.‘
‘Michèle Hirsch’s team has outstanding professional skills and is very efficient.‘
‘Hirsch & Vanhaelst is truly the go-to firm in criminal matters, fraud and investigations. Its reputation ensures that it is held in high esteem and respect by judges and colleagues alike.‘
‘Compared to other law firms, Hirsch & Vanhaelst has a very technical and pragmatic approach.‘
‘The small team of Michèle Hirsch is highly-qualified, both in terms of law in the books and law in action.‘
‘This firm is very well directed by Michèle Hirsch, who always has an excellent strategic view of her cases. She has excellent lawyers, not only in criminal matters but also in tax matters.‘
‘Straight to the point, with a very pragmatic and strategic approach. Very good human relations.‘
‘A well respected expert in anti-money laundering.‘
‘The team is very complete in criminal matters.‘
‘Michèle Hirsch is very experienced and has an excellent sense of strategic decisions to be made and shows good team spirit.‘
‘I had the opportunity to work with Michael Fernandez-Bertier, and as a new associate under the supervision of Michèle Hirsch, he established a key strategy within a very complex and international case. The knowledge of the practice and of the courts makes the team unmissable.‘
‘Regardless of numerous engagements, Michèle Hirsch is on top of her cases and remains available. Sophie Colmant has extensive experience in complex white-collar crime cases, including transnational ones. She has a very hands-on approach.‘
‘Michèle Hirsch has a great sense of strategy, allied with excellent young lawyers such as Sophie Colmant, Michael Fernandez-Bertier and Morgan Bonneure.‘
‘I have worked with Michèle Hirsch on several cross-border white-collar crime investigations. Her legal and personal skills, and her perfect knowledge of the judicial actors in Brussels, were impressive.‘
‘Michèle Hirsch enjoys an unrivalled reputation and stature on the Brussels square. This is reflected in her perfect knowledge of the intricacies of the Brussels criminal justice system. Moreover, she has surrounded herself with talented and brilliant associates, in particular Michael Fernandez-Bertier, trained in the best international law firms, who is a lawyer with a sharp mind, strong legal reasoning and a very good communication skills set in both English and French.’
Headed by co-founding partner and experienced litigator Philip Walravens, the Verhaegen Walravens fraud and white-collar practice is notably 'equipped to help foreign clients and law firms' and has 'an excellent reputation in this field'. It represents companies and individuals in financial and disputes proceedings, while also defending board directors against criminal liability allegations – ranging from accounting irregularities to the falsification of documents and asset embezzlement.
‘The team combines the sophistication of a large firm with the flexibility of a smaller firm, and is excellently equipped to help foreign clients and law firms when they have difficulties in the field of fraud and white-collar crime in Belgium.’
‘Philip Walravens has an excellent reputation in this field, as recognised by peers in the Belgian market.’
- Acting for Altrad in relation to a fraud discovered following the acquisition of a Belgian company.
- Acting for the former CEO of Lernout & Hauspie, in proceedings before the ECHR in Strasbourg.
- Acting for the relative of a director of a listed company in an investigation by the Belgian Financial Services Authority (FSMA) over allegations of insider dealing.