Firms To Watch: Dispute resolution: white-collar crime

Specialising in complex criminal and white-collar litigation, penal boutique Gajardo & Norambuena Abogados opened its doors in 2018, and brings together the criminal law firepower of Carlos Gajardo and Pablo Norambuena, each of whom amassed over 15 years experience in the Public Prosecutor's Office (Ministerio Público) before moving into the private sector.
Led by name partner Marcelo Hadwa, Hadwa Oxman Vargas Tuane's white-collar team is sought out by public authorities and officials, as well as public prosecutors, for its handling of cases involving state officials - particularly those with significant public impact.

Dispute resolution: white-collar crime in Chile

BACS Abogados

The recent track record of BACS Abogados‘ highly specialised white-collar crime team includes matters involving the public sector, politics, economic fraud, plagiarism, insider trading, and the armed forces. The firm fields several experienced practitioners, namely: Marcos Contreras, whose recent career includes being appointed a Professor of the Department of Criminal Sciences at Universidad de Santiago in 2021; Miguel Schürmann and Alejandro Awad, who are ‘without a doubt the best criminal litigators in the country‘; and consultant partner Antonio Bascuñán, who led the team of academics that produced the preliminary draft of Criminal Code presented to the Parliament by President Piñera. The second line of advisers includes José Pedro Silva, who is highly active in white-collar crime investigations, and was promoted to director of the firm’s criminal law and compliance practices in January 2022.

Practice head(s):

Alejandro Awad; Antonio Bascuñán; Marcos Contreras; Miguel Schurmann; José Pedro Silva

Testimonials

Very dedicated and studious specialists with the ability to meet deadlines and work under pressure – they give us a lot of confidence.

The team is multidisciplinary and its partners complement their knowledge very well, which allows us to work successfully in different areas of the legal space.

The BACS team demonstrated enormous professionalism through its advice, and was very up-to-date on matters – very committed to carrying out the requested investigations, with personalised advice that is directed to the specific questions that we ask them.

Always answered quickly, professionally, giving us both hypotheses and various solid proposals.

Analytical precision, legally impeccable proposals, and at the same time oriented towards efficiency and the client’s economic improvement.

Alejandro Awad, with whom it is easy to communicate with, is a very flexible character who seems to have complete and always fresh knowledge of the background information sent to him, transmitting remarkable tranquility during the handling of sensitive issues.

Miguel Schürmann and Alejandro Awad are exceptional lawyers. In addition to their vast knowledge of criminal matters, they understand clients’ perspectives perfectly and are capable of acting with a finely tuned strategic sense.

Alejandro Awad and Miguel Schürmann, with whom I have had the opportunity to work on several occasions, are without a doubt the best criminal litigators in the country.

Key clients

CAP

Redbanc

Sodimac

Sigdo Koppers

Codelco

Fiscalía Nacional Económica

Banco Itau

Red Salud

Australis Sea Foods

Grupo Patio

Ilustre Municipalidad de Maipú

Western Union Chile

Magnotta Wineyards

Viña Santa Carolina

Confuturo

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

HANWHA

Camila Vallejo

Cementerio Metropolitano

Grupo Bavaria

Work highlights

  • Defended Hermes Hein in relation to a closed investigation led by the Punta Arenas Prosecutor’s Office.
  • Successfully acted for Camila Vallejo Dowling (Congress member), who was investigated in relation to consultancy reports.
  • Acted for Ilustre Municipalidad de Maipú in an investigation into a large municipal deficit.

Bofill Escobar Silva Abogados

Specialised dispute resolution firm Bofill Escobar Silva Abogados fields a sizeable 22-strong criminal law group that handles a wide range of cases – from complex, white-collar and economic felonies to high-profile investigations involving corruption allegations and crimes committed against Chile’s critical infrastructure during the country’s late 2019 social crisis. The ‘outstanding‘ practice is co-led by highly esteemed name partner Jorge Bofill, a commercial litigation, international arbitration and white-collar crime expert who has longstanding experience in legislative work (such as his participation in the Drafting Committee of the Criminal Procedure Reform bill); and César Ramos  (elevated to the partnership in December 2021), whose recent track record includes successfully representing Chile’s Undersecretary of Health in a criminal investigation related to the spread of the Covid-19 Delta variant in Chile. Ramos and associate Andrea Lema (a late 2020 hire from the public criminal defender’s office) are both ‘very competent‘.

Practice head(s):

Jorge Bofill; Cesar Ramos

Testimonials

A human team that stays close to its clients and is empathetic in relation to their problems – a correct reading of the problems and how to resolve them.

The firm stands out for combining its experience with a top-level team of lawyers who work well together.

The lawyers study the origins of cases and analyse all the variables, and they have the support of experts in relation to ​​judicial and police investigations, and environmental studies.

In their relationships with clients, the lawyers are always receptive and will always consider the opinions of clients and background information supplied.

Lawyers with first-class professional preparation – outstanding in their field at a national level.

An organised, coherent work system, with a clear and defined strategic direction that allows freedom of action and creativity; and the work is coordinated through permanent monitoring and combined visions that enrich each aspect of the issues to be addressed.

The strategic direction and conduct of Jorge Bofill stands out.

Cesar Ramos and Andrea Lema are very competent – great degree of knowledge of the issues and processes that the client must face.

Key clients

Compañía Contractual Minera Candelaria

Pedro Guerra Guerrero

Karen Rojo Venegas

Luis Alberto Yapur

Sociedad Administradora de Casinos y Servicios Aliservice

Empresa de Transporte de Pasajeros Metro

Paula Labra Besserer

Julio Ponce Lerou

High-ranking officers of Empresas Penta

Carlos Capurro

Enel

Valeria Ronchera

Work highlights

  • Representing Compañía Contractual Minera Candelaria (and one of its former executives Miguel Troncoso), in an ongoing investigation regarding alleged bribery charges, which involve an agreement with the Municipality of Tierra Amarilla.
  • Acted for Julio Ponce, one of the largest shareholders of SQM, in relation to the Cascadas case, one of the landmark securities criminal cases of the last decade.
  • Represents a company, which is owned by Luis Alberto Yapur and provides food to the national public schools system, in an ongoing investigation concerning the alleged forgery of documents during a bidding process.

López Escobar del Río Leiva

Launched in 2017, boutique legal practice López Escobar del Río Leiva fields an eight-strong team (including four partners) that routinely handles a share of Chile’s most significant criminal cases, including cases concerning finance, retail, power generation, banking, infrastructure, ports and mining. The department is jointly led by Jorge Del Río Pérez, (former Ethics Judge of the Chilean Bar Association until 2021) who has longstanding experience in arbitration, dispute resolution and ADR work; Julián López Masle, a criminal, civil and commercial litigation expert, whose track record includes leading the criminal defence of the Penta Group’s controlling shareholders in relation to alleged tax offences and bribery; José Ignacio Escobar Opazo, whose recent workload includes assisting with an investigation into both embezzlement of public funds and bribery; and Felipe Leiva Fadic, a specialist in public sector-related arbitration, dispute resolution and litigation. Senior associate Ignacio Ananías Zaror is also active in criminal litigation, and civil, administrative and criminal litigation specialist Soledad Krause Muñoz -a former partner at Gandarillas, Montt, Del Río y Krause- was hired as counsel in October 2021.

Practice head(s):

Jorge Del Río Pérez; Julián López Masle; José Ignacio Escobar Opazo; Felipe Leiva Fadic

Key clients

Carlos Eugenio Lavín

Carlos Alberto Délano

Empresas Penta

Inversiones Penta III

Compañía Pesquera Camanchaca

Municipalidad de Vitacura

Délano Méndez Family

Bakkavor

BHP Billiton

Minera Escondida

Compañía Minera Cerro Colorado

Banco de Chile

Quiñenco

Banco Itaú

Yarur Tomic Family

Della Schiava Roth Family

Work highlights

  • Currently in charge of the legal defense of Empresas Penta and Inversiones Penta III in the headline Penta group tax crime and bribery scandal.
  • Defending Salmones Camanchaca against corporate penal liability charges concerning an alleged water pollution crime.
  • Acting for the administration of Camila Merino, the recently elected mayor of Municipalidad de Vitacura, in a criminal investigation initiated through a complaint filed at the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Albagli Zaliasnik

Fielding 'a complete range of specialists to deal with different aspects of legal problems', Albagli Zaliasnik's seven-strong white-collar litigation group handles major investigations before the Investigative Police, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Guarantee Courts, Oral Courts, and the Appeal, Constitutional and Supreme Courts. Recent highlights include representing Sartor Finance Group in a large financial scandal that involves the purchase of derivatives. The firm’s litigation department is led by name partner Gabriel Zaliasnik, a former president of the Commission for the Reform of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Ministry of Justice; and experienced criminal law practitioner, Jaime Winter - recently promoted from senior associate to department director, he is also a distinguished criminal law professor at Universidad de Chile.

Practice head(s):

Gabriel Zaliasnik; Jaime Winter

Testimonials

Lawyers who are permanently concerned about their clients.

Solid knowledge of their subjects with optimal use of databases and data sources.

Lawyers of all ages and with a complete range of specialists to deal with different aspects of legal problems.

Constant updating of clients and the seriousness with which the issues are discussed is remarkable.

Good technological support for meetings and presentations are at a very high standard.

The most important advantage is the personal commitment of the lawyers, and the continuous dialogue with the client.

Key clients

Sartor Finance Group

Inmobiliarias of Coquimbo

D&A Licensing

Jaime Mañalich

Senator Iván Moreira

Roberto Carrasco

National Chamber of Commerce

Corporación Municipal de la Florida

WOM

ENAMI

Work highlights

  • Representing Sartor Finance Group in a large financial crime matter.
  • Represented D&A licensing in an important IP case against the Chilean Copyright Society, which involves a criminal action.
  • Representing Jaime Mañalich, a former Chilean Health Minister, in several criminal actions against him, in relation to the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

BCP Abogados

The 13-strong department at BCP Abogados specialises in highly complex litigation, defending economic crime charges, tax crimes, crimes by officials, contentious administrative cases and civil litigation. The team is also active in matters involving criminal compliance, anti-corruption, and the prevention of asset laundering and terrorist financing. The group is jointly led by complex litigation expert Juan Ignacio Piña, whose practice spans litigation involving criminal, administrative and civil liability law; Francisco Cox, whose track record includes litigating before the International Criminal Court; and criminal litigation and compliance expert Matías Balmaceda. At senior associate level, Guillermo Cantin‘s practice includes criminal litigation work. Former compliance co-director Rodrigo Aldoney left the firm in January 2022.

Practice head(s):

Juan Ignacio Piña; Francisco Cox; Matías Balmaceda

Carey

Active in criminal economic and tax matters, cybercrime and anti-corruption legislation violations, Carey‘s criminal litigation practice also houses experts in asset laundering, and crime-related industrial and intellectual property law breaches. Former white-collar team head Alvaro Carreño recently left the firm (as did associates Francisca Franzani and Fernanda Montes), with the criminal law team now led by senior counsel Rodrigo Aldoney who joined in February 2022 from BCP Abogados; his practice covers all areas of criminal law, mainly economic and environmental crime, fraud, competition, corporate criminal liability and highly complex litigation in general. At partner level, litigation group co-head Gonzalo Fernández also acts on criminal matters, while the contentious practices of senior associate Eduardo Alcaino and associate Caterina Ravera are also primarily focused on white-collar crime.

Cariola Díez Pérez-Cotapos

Traditionally known for intellectual and industrial property-related criminal matters, Cariola Díez Pérez-Cotapos‘ white-collar and compliance practice was formally established in 2016 by Jorge Boldt, whose practice covers companies’ internal investigations, the design and implementation of compliance models, and trials involving economic crimes. The five-strong group is also experienced in assisting with major cases involving internal and external frauds, unlawful administration, corruption and tax crimes; the majority of the team’s work focuses on criminal claimant-side matters and victim’s advisory and assessment, rather than criminal defence. Key senior associate Lorena Avendaño frequently seconds Boldt during criminal cases and internal investigations, while Pablo Cariola handles criminal matters concerning IP infringements.

Practice head(s):

Jorge Boldt

Key clients

Connors

Honda Motors

Google

Ripley

Sandvik Chile

KPMG Chile

Nueva Unión

Lego

Work highlights

  • Assisted Connors with the filing of a criminal action in relation to the Inverlink fraud.
  • Acted for Ripley in relation to a fraud-related criminal investigation.
  • Defended Sandvik against a criminal claim involving an alleged fraud.

FerradaNehme

Fielding 'lawyers who handle their skills with excellence', FerradaNehme's compact, four-strong team consistently represents companies and individuals in economic criminal law cases, particularly crimes that incorporate corporate dimensions. Compliance work is also a strong feature of the practice, including advising companies on how to prevent being involved in Public Ministry investigations. In addition to leading the firm’s compliance practice, the experience of Rafael Collado (a partner since 2018) includes advce and representation in major Chilean economic criminal law cases; senior associate Lucía Álvarez also regularly acts on large-scale matters. Collado and Álvarez are 'very competent' and 'always fulfil tasks within the stipulated deadlines'.

Practice head(s):

Rafael Collado

Testimonials

The FerradaNehme team is very available to its clients, with lawyers who handle their skills with excellence, prepare their legal defences very well (and share them with their clients,) and billing processes that use advanced technology- generally a more modern firm than other Chilean offices.

A very professional team with quick responses and great rigour.

Always committed and available, interested in clients’ business, and with a global and business vision of problems that is not just legal.

Rafael Collado and senior associate Lucía Álvarez are very competent professionals, who always fulfil tasks within the stipulated deadlines.

Key clients

Corporación Nacional del Cobre de Chile

Constructor Atacama

Clínica Sierra Bella

Innovación Social y Fundraising

Anagram

Sunset Tires

GC Rent

Work highlights

  • Acted for Codelco in corruption-related criminal actions against its former CEO.
  • Acted for Clínica Sierra Bella in a major fraud case with anti-money laundering ramifications.
  • Assisted Prosegur with an anti-money laundering-related internal investigation affecting a Prosegur client.

Gana y Galvez Abogados

The white-collar crime practice at litigation boutique Gana y Galvez Abogados houses specialists in fraud committed against companies and financial institutions, as well as defence-side fraud-related allegations. The firm’s criminal litigation group is led by founding partner Jorge Gálvez S, and routinely interacts with the Police, the Public Ministry, the Guarantee Courts and the Superior Courts in relation to criminal matters. The group’s track record includes the prevention and prosecution of crimes involving the embezzlement of Chile’s financial system, as well as representing senior executives, CEOs and government officials in criminal investigations. Key associate support comes from experienced litigator Javiera Venegas L and Martín Hess.

Giroux Vial Abogados

A frequent port-of-call for law firms that don’t have a criminal practice, the ‘small but powerful and dedicated‘ white-collar group at Giroux Vial Abogados is experienced in dispute resolution involving criminal and administrative penal law, and also has a robust compliance practice that covers the criminal liability of private individuals and legal entities, as well as asset laundering prevention. Founding partners Cristophe Giroux and Salvador Vial, who are ‘very good at dealing with sensitive issues that have a high potential for conflict‘, have both worked in the public and private sectors, including public prosecution agencies. Experienced litigation associate Paulina Corral   moved to Fundación Pro Bono Chile in March 2022.

Practice head(s):

Cristophe Giroux; Salvador Vial

Testimonials

An up-to-date, multi-functional team that works in a coordinated and highly efficient manner.

Knew how to adapt positively to the pandemic scenario without losing proximity to its clients.

A small but powerful and dedicated team that has a lot of experience in the industry, as well as good contacts in the offices where the procedures are carried out.

The great strength of Giroux Vial is that due to its size, matters are handled by its partners, not by junior lawyers. For the same reason, communication is very easy with them.

Great combination of expertise, knowledge and speed.

Cristophe Giroux and Salvador Vial are both very good at dealing with sensitive issues that have a high potential for conflict.

Both Cristophe Giroux and Salvador Vial are very committed people, who are concerned with keeping the client very informed through the evaluation of scenarios and discussing of strategies – and they follow up on things. As both partners are ex-prosecutors, they have an intimate knowledge of the penal system, which makes their management of work very efficient.

Lembeye Abogados

Founded in 2017 and demonstrating steady growth, Lembeye Abogados recruited Daniel Praetorius -the former co-head of Bofill Escobar Silva Abogados' white-collar team- to lead its dispute resolution and criminal law department in 2020. 'Capable of handling the most complex scenarios', Praetorius has experience acting in various major and high-profile white-collar cases, and since his arrival  at the firm his caseload has include being retained by individuals and companies in a plethora of criminal cases, including iTelecom’s defence against a major criminal anti-corruption investigation. Praetorius’ practice also includes assisting with the development and implementation of compliance programmes, in addition to conducting internal corporate investigations. Lukas Hudson, who also teaches procedural law at the Universidad Andrés Bello, provides key associate support.

Practice head(s):

Daniel Praetorius

Testimonials

Daniel Praetorius, who despite his youth has an important background in white-collar crime work. I think that it is Daniel’s committed character, in addition to his legal strategies, that makes Lembeye’s practice unique.

I can speak to Daniel Praetorius and his excellent service. With his character and intelligence, he is capable of handling the most complex scenarios. In addition, he is preceded by great experience in some of the most high-profile judicial cases of recent times in Chile.

Key clients

Itelecom

Work highlights

  • Defending iTelecom Holding group companies against a criminal investigation into alleged bribery during several bidding proceedings in different municipalities across the country.

Merino y Cía. Abogados

Launched as recently in 2019, Merino y Cía. Abogados‘ practice acts in major criminal cases involving embezzlement, corporate fraud, forgery, and crimes against intellectual and industrial property. It also assists corporations with their internal procedures for detecting frauds and other unlawful acts; and advises on the design, implementation and updating of compliance systems that can serve as corporate criminal liability defences. The firm’s principal figures are founding partner Eugenio Merino Palacios, a former Ortiz & Compañía partner; and of counsel Javier Wilenmann Von Bernath, whose track record includes advising the Chilean criminal justice system’s key institutions.

Montero, Silva & Valdés

Launched in 2018, Montero, Silva & Valdés‘ specialised white-collar department, which ‘demonstrates a lot of experience during difficult cases‘, consistently acts in complex criminal matters as well as assisting with contingency-related preventive analyses and handling the development of compliance models and programmes. Currently a professor at the criminal law department of the Universidad Mayor, founding partner and team head Darío Silva Villagrán, who ‘stands out as an excellent criminal lawyer‘, focuses primarily on penal matters, particularly criminal activity with economic and administrative sanctioning elements, as well as compliance issues. At associate level, the deeply experienced Paula Alejandra Sánchez Birke arrived from the former Bofill Mir Andres Jana Abogados in May 2021 (where she was a senior); and Manuela Miquel Barros, ‘a very efficient litigation associate‘, also provides key associate.

Practice head(s):

Darío Silva Villagrán

Testimonials

Studious, friendly, committed lawyers!

It’s a consolidated team with a specialism in penal work – very clear when identifying risks.

A firm that is up to date with its practices – compares favourably to most other firms we interact with.

The team reacts quickly to client requests and demonstrates a lot of experience during difficult cases – great teamwork from efficient lawyers who are always available.

Darío Silva Villagrán is always willing to assist you and makes you feel that your case is the first priority. Darío’s experience and quick thinking are remarkable. He is very good at understanding the client’s concerns in relation to how the problem affects the development of its business.

Darío Silva Villagrán provides us with an excellent and personalised service, and his team is committed and available at all times.

Darío Silva Villagrán stands out as an excellent criminal lawyer.

Manuela Miquel Barros is a very efficient litigation associate.

Key clients

Bioleche

Mainstream

Veolia Chile

WSP Servicios Postales

Coexca

Nisum

Work highlights

  • Defending Sebastian Gonzalez (former company senior executive at Intervalores Corredores de Bolsa) in the major Intervalores fraud case.
  • Represents 2,500 farmers in the region of Ñuble (grouped within umbrella organisation Junta de Vigilancia del Rio Diguillin y sus Afluentes), in relation to the usurpation of their water rights.
  • Represented Paulo Brignardello, one of the victims in the Arcano Case, which involved hundreds of millions of dollars being handed over by investors to venture capital firm Grupo Arcano and affiliate Onix Capital.

Estudio Navarro Abogados

Focused on advising both large and medium-sized companies, the eight-strong practice at Estudio Navarro Abogados is jointly co-led by Catalina Navarro, who previously directed the Economic Crimes Unit at the National Public Prosecutor’s Office; and Carlos Vernaza, a former Undersecretariat for Crime Prevention counsel at the Ministry of the Interior and Public Security. Partners at the firm since 2014, Navarro and Vernaza both specialise in crimes against assets and property, economic crimes, and generally all crimes involving business (including cybercrime, and intellectual and industrial property-related crime). The department also assists companies with the development of crime prevention models. Recent highlights saw the team acted for three students of a trading and investment academy, who suffered the theft of cryptocurrencies from their accounts.

Practice head(s):

Catalina Navarro; Carlos Vernaza

Key clients

Montajes del Pacífico

Alejandro Burr

Anita Pinedo

Institute for Agricultural and Livestock Research

Anpac

Neo Style

Automa

Institute and Livestock Research

Work highlights

  • Acted for Montajes del Pacífico in its fraud lawsuit against its former chief of remuneration.
  • Acted for three students of a trading and investment academy, who suffered the theft of cryptocurrencies from their accounts.
  • Represented Paola Elgueta Pino, who was the victim of misappropriation of pension payments and a simulated contract.