Internal investigations in Germany
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s cross-office and cross-practice team has a wealth of expertise in internal investigations in combination with compliance and white-collar criminal law; it is commissioned by a wide range of well-known clients for mostly complex cases. Airbus and Volkswagen, for example, are key clients. The group’s services include the coordination of numerous legal issues and contentious cases in several jurisdictions; the team advises in particular on the implementation of settlements reached in the US. Stephan Waldhausen assisted a DAX 30 company with an internal investigation into compliance violations by a member of the management of a subsidiary. The highly respected Simone Kämpfer, who joined from Thomas, Deckers, Wehnert & Elsner, acted for Meyer Werft in connection with internal investigations into allegations of possible breaches by a subcontractor. Meanwhile, Tobias Larisch left for Latham & Watkins LLP. Practice heads Norbert Nolte and Marius Berenbrok are also recommended. Daniel Travers joined the Düsseldorf team in November 2018 from criminal law boutique Krause & Kollegen.
Hogan Lovells International LLP continues to be strategically focused on internal investigations in the context of compliance and white-collar crime, and the ‘professional’ team has ‘extensive expertise’ in technical terms and across various industries. It is instructed by companies in cases such as antitrust, money laundering and sanction infringement allegations, but also in cases of alleged embezzlement, tax evasion, harassment and bullying. Due to the mostly cross-border nature of the investigations, they often also have a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and UK Bribary Act (UKBA) reference. Practice head Sebastian Lach is well versed in handling criminal cases. Désirée Maier made partner at the beginning of 2018 and focuses exclusively on compliance and internal investigations with a focus on the life sciences sector. The team was also strengthened at the associate level.
Clifford Chance assists clients from a wide range of industries in both Germany-wide and cross-border internal investigations. The group works closely with other practice areas to investigate breaches and suspicions of embezzlement, corruption or money laundering. It is led by the experienced Heiner Hugger; in a recent highlight under his leadership, an internal investigation was conducted at a bank and its local capital management company with regard to possible cum-ex transactions and the analysis of tax and legal risks. In other work, the group acted for a trading company concerning the investigation of allegations of hidden commissions, conflicts of interest and IP law crimes. Marc Besen and Joachim Schütze, who are very well versed in antitrust law, advised an automotive supplier in connection with a preliminary investigation by the German federal cartel office. Ines Keitel, who recently made partner, is the name to note for questions concerning employment law matters. Counsel Jochen Pörtge left to become a partner at Pinsent Masons Germany LLP in October 2018.
Noerr’s ‘very good’ team is experienced in the planning and structuring of internal investigations, working closely with the firm’s corporate, employment and criminal law practice and delivering ‘pragmatic and legally sound results’. The group was instructed by a listed company to conduct a comprehensive internal investigation, including consultation with foreign advisors. In another highlight, it advised the supervisory board of Deutsche Börse on insider dealing allegations against the former CEO. Lars Kutzner recently assisted an airline with allegations made by a whistleblower during an internal investigation concerning violations of internal guidelines. Led by Torsten Fett, the group consists of a number of experienced lawyers, including Bärbel Sachs and Christian Pelz.
White & Case LLP’s team has strong expertise in both national and international investigations, often acting for automotive and financial companies. In addition, it benefits from a close cooperation with the labour, antitrust and corporate practices. Practice head Karl-Jörg Xylander is well versed advising on strategic and contentious matters, and representing clients in compliance and white-collar crime issues; he is conducting a number of internal investigations at various car companies, most recently in relation to alleged bribery. Nils Clemm acts for a financial institution in an internal investigation into alleged tax evasion, including representation before authorities. Tine Schauenburg and Constantin Lauterwein are other names to note.
Baker McKenzie’s ‘top compliance and internal investigation team’ advises clients primarily in the automotive, financial services, construction, logistics and consumer products sectors on international investigations, working closely with the public, antitrust and IT practices. Anahita Thoms, who was a new arrival from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in New York, is assisting an industrial company with internal investigations into breaches of sanction and export control law. Andreas Lohner also works for an international company in investigations related to cartel and corruption allegations. Thomas Grützner, who announced his move to Latham & Watkins LLP in August 2018, was instructed by a number of DAX 30 companies, for example for an internal anti-corruption investigation. Nicolai Behr joined the partnership.
DLA Piper’s internal investigations group consists of experienced criminal and compliance lawyers. It is a popular choice for cross-border work and is experienced in working with prosecutors as well as regulatory and investigative authorities. While dealing with all types of investigations – including audit issues, bribery and corruption, as well as fraud, money laundering, sanctions and anti-competitive conduct – the team also conducts internal investigations related to asset recovery and the preparation and response to cyber attacks. Christian Schoop is leading an internal investigation for an automotive company into a number of allegations and advises the client on government proceedings. Jürgen Taschke is assisting the supervisory board of a manufacturing company with corruption allegations and is conducting the criminal evaluation of the internal investigation.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Gibson Dunn is experienced in planning and conducting internal investigations into fraud, embezzlement and corruption, as well as external investigations. The practice’s case portfolio is often related to Central and Eastern Europe, the countries of the former Soviet Union and the MENA region. It is well integrated into the firm’s international network and can provide comprehensive legal crisis management through cooperation with other practice groups. Benno Schwarz is a member of the international team that conducts internal investigations for Daimler. In addition to his sound compliance expertise, clients also benefit from Michael Walther’s experience in antitrust law and Mark Zimmer’s employment law expertise. Additionally, with Ferdinand Fromholzer and Markus Nauheim’s corporate law expertise, the group has a very broad offering, not least due to the key addition of litigation attorney Finn Zeidler, who joined the firm in May 2017 from Latham & Watkins LLP.
Linklaters is instructed by credit institutions and national and international companies to conduct internal investigations, often relating to antitrust or tax law. For example, the group assisted the supervisory board of Deutsche Bank with investigations and disputes. Furthermore, practice head Hans-Ulrich Wilsing acts for KfW Bankengruppe in an internal investigation. Antitrust lawyer Daniela Seeliger is also very active: in addition to handling a number of compliance instructions, she is also assisting online travel and leisure retailer lastminute.com with the German federal cartel office’s sector inquiry in the area of internet comparison portals; Seeliger dealt with legal questions regarding the cartel office’s new competences in the area of consumer protection. Andreas Dehio and Christian Schmitt joined the partnership in May 2017.
Pohlmann & Company
Boutique firm Pohlmann & Company continues to enjoy a strong market reputation for its compliance advice, including internal investigations. Clients appreciate the ‘very good and professional service’ of the team, which is also experienced in environmental and real estate matters. Horst Schlemminger is conducting an internal investigation at a chemical industry company after a suspicion of fraud arose following the acquisition of a company. He also assisted a group of companies in the service sector during an internal investigation. Bosch is another client. Andreas Pohlmann, Thomas Preute and Thomas Lüthi are other central figures. Eric Mayer is now with GSK Stockmann.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP focuses on advising board members and supervisory boards on fraud, corruption, money laundering, export controls and related sanctions. The group has extensive experience in cross-border investigations, not least due to its good links with US-based colleagues. Bernd Mayer is advising Daimler on the ongoing investigation by the US Department of Justice into the exhaust emissions scandal. He is also part of the international team conducting an internal investigation for a US-based pharmaceutical and biotech company. The group is able to draw on the firm’s conflict resolution practice – where Anke Sessler is the key name – and in recent work handled a joint internal audit of UniCredit Bank concerning cum-ex transactions. Jens König is also very active.
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP primarily acts for clients in the financial services sector on internal investigations in various areas such as anti-corruption, market manipulation, data protection, capital markets and banking supervision law. The group works closely with the tax law practice, particularly with regard to cum-ex transactions; recently, it conducted an internal investigation for a financial institution in connection with tax-motivated share transactions. The practice also saw an increased demand for antitrust and data protection assistance. The experienced Wolf Bussian’s team advised a bank on the coordination and execution of an internal investigation covering several jurisdictions. Jan Erik Windthorst, who is also singled out, increasingly dealt with the interactions between banking regulatory and litigation matters. He led an internal investigation at a financial institution, which required effective cooperation with antitrust and banking regulators.
CMS combines a broad practice with many years of expertise, and creates suitable teams depending on the instruction to assist corporations and DAX 30 companies with uncovering and clarifying infringements. The group was instructed by Atlas Elektronik, a subsidiary of thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, to conduct internal investigations in connection with various acts of corruption. Counsel Patrick Müller-Sartori assisted a chemical company with the detection of compliance violations and subsequent proceedings. Joachim Kaetzler is an expert in the financial services sector, recently advising and representing a stock corporation in a matter pertaining to tax evasion allegations. The team also focuses on data protection matters; for example, it advised on the preparation of contractual data protection regulations and guidelines. Counsel Laura Görtz joined the team, which is headed by Harald Potinecke, from Noerr.
Clients value Gleiss Lutz for its ‘high level of commitment’ and ‘outstanding expertise’; the group is experienced in cross-border investigations, often in the pharmaceutical, medical, media, consumer goods, defence and automotive sectors, and ‘provides viable solutions for the management board’. It is also well versed in directors’ and officers’ liability issues. Most recently, the team conducted an internal investigation for Alno’s insolvency administrator and also reviewed directors’ liability and recourse claims. The good cooperation with antitrust lawyers was recently underlined by the successful conduct of an internal investigation for IsoBouw: the Federal Cartel Office ordered a search on suspicion of cartel violations concerning insulation materials; the proceedings ended with an acquittal in March 2018. The group also advises the supervisory boards of Volkswagen and Audi on a wide range of legal issues. Eike Bicker is considered to be ‘assertive’ and Christian Steinle, focuses on antitrust fine and damages proceedings.
Hengeler Mueller’s practice combines expertise in the areas of compliance, internal investigations and white-collar crime; it also works closely with other areas, such as criminal procedural law, corporate, antitrust, data protection and insolvency law. It is conducting internal and external investigations for the Robert Bosch group globally in connection with the alleged manipulation of nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel vehicles. In addition, Hans-Jörg Niemeyer’s team recently successfully completed the representation of Calsonic Kansei; following the EU Commission’s antitrust investigation, the firm defended claims for damages. Daniel Weiß assisted an international retail group with investigating suspected fraud. The group was strengthened at the senior associate level: Ralf Christian van Ermingen-Marbach, who has expertise in white-collar crime and internal investigations, joined from the Düsseldorf public prosecutor’s office. Dirk Uwer and Wolfgang Spoerr also deserve special mention.
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is valued by clients for its ‘excellent service level’ and ‘very good industry knowledge’; it is experienced in conducting internal investigations, frequently at a cross-border level, for industrial and commercial companies as well as financial institutions. For example, the group assisted Stada with an investigation into possible misdemeanours. It also works closely with other practice groups and international colleagues. Thomas Schürrle is regarded as ‘a reliable, competent and skilful adviser and navigator’.
Herbert Smith Freehills GmbH
The ‘exceptionally good’ team at Herbert Smith Freehills GmbH advises on international law enforcement issues as well as white-collar crime issues, including conducting internal investigations. Dirk Seiler is ‘a wise strategist’ and has been instructed by a number of banks to conduct internal investigations, most recently in connection with the fight against money laundering. He also advises a chemical company on cooperating with the investigating authorities. Helmut Görling, who is ‘target-oriented and trustworthy’, assisted an industrial manufacturer with internal investigations, and defended the client against the enforcement of a foreign judgment in Germany. The group also conducts internal investigations with its own forensic team. Senior associate Enno Appel is recognised for his ‘outstanding expertise’.
Reed Smith LLP
Reed Smith LLP advises on compliance and corporate governance issues as well as internal investigations, and is often instructed by clients in the pharmaceutical, healthcare, energy and manufacturing industries. In this area, instructions often require antitrust law assistance, while other instructions frequently touch upon money laundering, abuse of power and fraud. Rolf Hünermann is the central figure in the team.