White-collar crime in Spain

Baker McKenzie

Baker McKenzie stands out for its 'leadership capacity and coordination with the offices of other defendants, technical capacity and in-depth knowledge of the case'. The firm has developed a strong name for itself in the field of Spanish corporate criminal law, in part due to the reputation of former public prosecutor Jesus Santos. He works alongside dispute resolution and white-collar criminal law specialist Victor Mercedes to represent high-profile individuals and companies in sensitive investigations and criminal proceedings. At the associate level, Samantha Salsench and Juan Pedro Cortés are names to note.

Practice head(s):

Victor Mercedes; Jesús Santos

Other key lawyers:

María Massó; Samantha Salsench; Juan Pedro Cortés

Testimonials

‘The team is highly specialized in criminal law. Its strengths are its dedication, great knowledge of procedural procedure. It is imaginative in terms of procedural actions and is interested in understanding the merits of the case. In relation to the teams of other law firms, it stands out favorably in taking initiatives, leadership and coordination when it comes to joint defenses with defendants defended by other law firms. In general, Baker’s teams outperform the rest of the law firms in knowledge, leadership and initiative.’

‘Very honest people. Jesus Santos is a credible and trustworthy guy.’

‘Professionals have a transversal vision of the matters assigned to them, being able to identify risks of all kinds and, therefore, to involve professionals from other disciplines when necessary.’

‘Their flexibility and availability, as well as their efficiency to solve unforeseen events, differentiates them from other firms. Likewise, the technical-legal level is outstanding. I highlight the Partner Mr. Víctor Mercedes and the Associate Ms. Samantha Salsench.’

‘Our experience working with this firm in the criminal area is exceptional. Not only because of the high technical quality of the team we work with, but because of their total involvement in the issues. They anticipate our needs and propose innovative solutions. They feel the subject as their own and their experience contributes a lot. Fully available and accessible when the client needs it.’

‘Victor Mercedes: extraordinary technical knowledge.’

Key clients

DELOITTE ESPAÑA, S.L.

Directors of TMF Group.

ING Bank

MEDIASET ESPAÑA, S.A.

APPLUS

 

PARTIDO POPULAR – JUICIO ORDENADORES

Work highlights

  • Defending a prominent international businessperson in a criminal proceeding for fraudulent insolvency, machination to alter the price of the shares, private corruption and mismanagement.
  • Successfully represented the leading Spanish certification group Applus (in particular, its subsidiary LGAI Technological Center) in a criminal case initiated by a complaint of the Public Prosecution Office before the National Court (Audiencia Nacional) for the alleged crime of false advertising, fraud, forgery of documents and private corruption.
  • Defending an individual in the Criminal Proceedings dealt with by the Central Examining Magistrate’s Court n. 6 of the Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional).

Cuatrecasas

Cuatrecasas fields a sizeable and specialised corporate criminal law team, which operates from Madrid and Barcelona and assists clients in domestic cases as well as those with cross-border aspects. Given the firm's standing in the market, it is no surprise that its clients include leading corporations in the financial services, technology and construction sectors. Its clients turn to the team for assistance in both internal and regulator-led investigations, and criminal cases involving fraud, money laundering and environmental offences, among other areas. Joaquín Burkhalter heads the practice and is highly regarded; Luis Jordana de Pozas and Alfredo Domínguez are also well-known figures in the market.

Practice head(s):

Joaquín Burkhalter

Other key lawyers:

Luis Jordana de Pozas; Alfredo Domínguez; Josep Riba; Pablo Villaseca

Garrigues

'One of the best firms in Spain for corporate criminal law', Garrigues benefits from a strong office network, which allows it to handle both domestic and cross-border criminal cases on behalf of its clients, which include high-profile companies and individuals. At an institutional level, the firm also stands out for its adoption of technological tools and platforms to improve efficiency; its CORE application, for example, facilitates risk and compliance management for clients during the design and implementation stages of criminal compliance programmes. Helena Prieto heads the corporate investigations unit, and Gabriel Castro leads the criminal law practice. Former Attorney General for Spain Eduardo Torres-Dulce is another key contact.

Practice head(s):

Helena Pietro; Gabriel Castro; Eduardo Torres-Dulce

Other key lawyers:

Pedro Miguel González; Beatriz Bustamante; José Fernández; Álvaro Mato; Marta Sánchez; David Caballero

Testimonials

They have a practical and in-depth knowledge of the functioning of the courts in Spain. The team complements each other very efficiently.’

Absolute availability to answer calls and customer questions: Helena Prieto and Gabriel Castro (Partners) and David Caballero (Associate).

Very good legal advice and hands on approach.’

They have great legal skills, are very responsive to clients demands, easily approachable.’

Excellent knowledge of the specific area of compliance criminal and internal investigations of the company, in this area.’

Garrigues is one of the best criminal law firms in Spain for corporate criminal law. Their lawyers are brilliant, methodical and great strategists.’

At a technological level, Garrigues brings security to its clients: it makes us feel that our information is safe in their hands.’

Gabriel Castro, partner in the Criminal Law area, is a magnificent lawyer. He is practical, decisive and has extensive experience in the room.’

Key clients

DELOITTE SPAIN

BANCO BILBAO VIZCAYA ARGENTARIA (BBVA)

DIA GROUP

PUBLICIS COMUNICACIÓN ESPAÑA AND ZENITH MEDIA (PUBLICIS GROUPE)

AMERICAN EXPRESS GLOBAL BUSINESS TRAVEL (AMEX SPAIN)

GINSO (Asociación para la Gestión de la Integración Social)

VALEO SPAIN

LAFARGEHOLCIM SPAIN

FCC GROUP

Work highlights

  • Conducting BBVA’s internal corporate investigation.
  • Defending an auditor who approved the accounts of a large financial institution in criminal proceedings involving alleged fraud against investors, and other offences.
  • Representing an individual in criminal proceedings followed by the National Court which investigates alleged fraud against investors, misappropriation, accounts falsification and several other corporate crimes .

Uría Menéndez

Uría Menéndez has cemented its reputation in the field of corporate criminal law and investigations through its involvement in high-profile cases, particularly in the financial services sector. The team has recently represented clients, which - aside from financial institutions - include major construction, engineering and energy companies, in criminal proceedings concerning fraud, corruption, money laundering and environmental offences. Óscar Morales, Ismael Clemente and Jaime Alonso jointly lead the practice; Manuel Álvarez and Enrique Rodríguez Celada are also noted. Carlos Bueren retired from practice.

Practice head(s):

Oscar Morales; Ismael Clemente; Jaime Alonso

Other key lawyers:

Enrique Rodríguez Celada; Manuel Álvarez; Alberto Gómez Fraga

Testimonials

‘Knowledge of specific judicial practice and jurisprudence, precedents, multidisciplinary approach.’

‘Ismael Clemente Casas, Enrique Rodriguez Celada: good experience, proactive with the client, objective and transparent risk assessment’

‘Very intelligent and practical, with a lot of knowledge of their very particular procedural practice and what is appropriate at all times.’

‘Jaime Alonso Gallo provides a global vision of the different aspects of the case, with very clear ideas about what is relevant and what is not. It perfectly organises the ideas and manages to be very convincing and clear in writing with the appropriate and not excessive length.’

‘Oscar Morales leads a team of three partners, two counsels and a dozen associates between the Madrid and Barcelona offices. The group’s academic and practical combination, its participation in complex top-level matters, as well as the solvency in the training of the youngest lawyers make it the best criminal team in the business law market. Its availability is always immediate, unconditional and absolute, generating the feeling of being an extension of your own legal department.’

‘The plus is the great cohesion of the team, and the versatility of the lawyers that make it up, with extensive experience in matters as diverse as tax, computer, corporate and financial criminal law. Oscar Morales is the contact partner of my organization and with whom we cover both national and international issues. The triple role as ex-magistrate, university professor and lawyer grants him extraordinary qualities for leadership and management of affairs. Manuel Alvarez, counsel in the Barcelona office, is also a professional with excellent technical skills with an extraordinary capacity for analysis and diagnosis.’

Work highlights

  • Legal defence in criminal proceedings for Catalonia’s independence referendum of 1 October 2017.
  • Legal defence in criminal proceedings before Central Investigation Court 5 of Spain’s National Court related to money laundering, bribery and corruption allegations in connection with important Spanish politicians.
  • Legal defence of the client and its managers in a criminal investigation being heard by Spain’s National Court in connection with alleged fraud, misleading advertising and document forgery.

CMS Albiñana y Suárez de Lezo

Under the leadership of highly experienced criminal law expert Carlos Aguilar, CMS Albiñana y Suárez de Lezo is equipped to represent clients in sensitive fraud, money laundering and tax evasion cases. The team also maintains an active compliance practice, and assists clients with the establishment and implementation of criminal risk prevention and compliance programmes. The team also benefits from the input of several experienced senior associates, including Emilio Moyano and Manuel Sánchez-Puelles.

Practice head(s):

Carlos Aguilar

Other key lawyers:

Emilio Moyano; Manuel Sánchez-Puelles; Jorge Martínez

Testimonials

‘They know the trade very well. They have a favorable comparison.’

‘They are outstanding attorneys, among the best in their professional practice nationwide. Carlos Aguilar.’

Key clients

Sociedad de Gestión de Activos Procedentes de la Reestructuración Bancaria (SAREB)

Red Eléctrica de España

Work highlights

  • Representation of the client, which is a partly state-owned and public limited Spanish corporation, in criminal proceedings before several courts throughout Spain.
  • Acting as lead counsel in the proceedings investigating the irregular management by several executives of a major financial institution.

Gómez-Acebo & Pombo

In white-collar criminal law, Gómez-Acebo & Pombo balances a busy caseload, regularly representing clients in complex cases involving fraud, money laundering and public corruption, among other offences. Its client base is equally broad, including financial institutions, individuals and companies operating in a range of sectors. Highly experienced partners Vanessa Fernández Lledó and Carlos Sáiz Díaz lead the practice, which includes key associate Enrique Luzón Campos.

Practice head(s):

Carlos Sáiz Díaz; Vanessa Fernández Lledó

Other key lawyers:

Enrique Luzón Campos

Pérez-Llorca

Pérez-Llorca stands out for its ability to handle multi-jurisdictional criminal cases, where it represents both companies and sovereign states. In addition, the team is well versed in internal investigations, and also assists clients with crisis management in emergency situations. Practice head Adriana de Buerba is a former public prosecutor and has vast experience representing clients as defendants and in and private prosecution. Juan Palomino is another name to note; he has notable expertise in criminal litigation and internal investigations. Of counsel Mayte Requejo joined the firm in 2021.

Practice head(s):

Adriana de Buerba

Other key lawyers:

Juan Palomino; Guillermo Meilán; Edurne Álvarez; Jorge Walser; Mayte Requejo

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance's Madrid office counts a number of major corporates and financial institutions among its clients. The white-collar crime, compliance and investigations team has seen growth, including with the arrival of associate Sonsoles Callejo in 2019, and is well versed in internal investigations and criminal proceedings involving allegations of corruption, fraud, falsehood of financial documents and tax crimes. Carlos Zabala is the key partner.

Practice head(s):

Fernando Irurzun; Carlos Zabala

Other key lawyers:

Sonia Trendafilova; Sonsoles Callejo

Testimonials

‘It is a truly multidisciplinary team, with in-depth knowledge of the various matters that can affect the company.’

‘The lawyer we work with the most is Carlos Zabala. What we value the most is the availability, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without exception. It is a practice in which problems can arise at any time for which you need to have your lawyer.’

Key clients

Airbus

Swedbank

Glencore

Vingroup

BT España

Värde Partners Europe Limited Partners

Samsung Electronics Iberia, S.A.U.

Saint Gobain

Work highlights

  • Took part in one of the major Government-led AML investigations.
  • Took part in an internal investigation for Airbus in coordination with US and other European Clifford Chance offices.
  • Defends two subsidiaries of Vingroup and several members of the board in a criminal case which is under investigation by the Investigation Court in Majadahonda (Madrid). The criminal investigation was initiated as a consequence of a minority shareholder filing a criminal complaint for corporate offences.

Corporate Defense S.L.P.

Corporate Defense S.L.P. specialises in complex and sensitive corporate criminal law, including cases before the Spanish Supreme Court. It has a notable track record in cases involving financial institutions, though its client base also includes prominent individuals and companies operating in myriad sectors. Founding partner Carlos Gómez-Jara is a prominent practitioner in white-collar criminal defence.

Practice head(s):

Carlos Gómez-Jara

Key clients

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)

Fondo de Garantía de Depósitos

Perez y Cia

Neymar & Neymar (N&N Consutoría)

Fondo de Restructuración Ordenada Bancaria (FROB)

Work highlights

  • Representing an individual in a high-profile case concerning market manipulation.
  • Advising the client in a complex case connected to ongoing criminal proceedings against Chinese organised crime.
  • Advising N&N Consultoría (property of football superstar Neymar Jr.) in connection with alleged corrupt payments when Football Club Barcelona signed the player.

DWF-RCD

The Barcelona-based corporate crime team at DWF-RCD is a popular choice for private clients, including prominent entrepreneurs and business owners. Under the leadership of Diego Artacho, who draws on over 25 years of experience and previously worked at the Spanish tax authority, the team assists in investigations and criminal proceedings concerning tax fraud, bribery, money laundering and misappropriation of public funds.

Practice head(s):

Diego Artacho

Other key lawyers:

Borja Vives

Hogan Lovells International LLP

Hogan Lovells International LLP indicated its commitment and investment into its white-collar criminal law practice with the promotion of practice head Ignacio Sánchez to partner in January 2020; the team advises on compliance, internal investigations and economic criminal cases. Also in 2020, the firm launched a new crisis management tool for its clients, the Crisis Leadership Portal, which assists clients in emergency situations, in particular by providing preparedness guides, case studies and a helpline.

Practice head(s):

Ignacio Sánchez

Testimonials

Ignacio Sánchez is an excellent criminal lawyer, always ready to help, but the most important thing is that he is an excellent person.’

Ignacio Sánchez was very good with my internal clients, he was human but also expert and reassuring. He mastered the file quickly and found good strategies. He was easy to work with and he got a great result for us.

Honest and frank, and personally very implied in the file.

Work highlights

  • Assisted a former member of a board of directors of a financial institution in a criminal proceeding before the Spanish National Court which commenced as a result of several complaints filed by minority shareholders.
  • Represents a former chief security officer in criminal proceedings arising from a railway accident.
  • Representing two Brazilian individuals in criminal proceedings arising out of the purchase of a company.

Ius + Aequitas Abogados

Specialised litigation and white-collar criminal law boutique Ius + Aequitas Abogados is 'composed of very talented and experienced individuals'. The firm regularly represents associations and individuals in bringing criminal complaints against high-profile companies and individuals, and also has experience on the defence side. The firm places significant weight on corporate social responsibility; as part of this commitment, it supports a number of charities and annual awards. One client notes that 'the human value of this firm is its great strength'. Elíseo Martínez and Carolina González de la Fuente jointly lead the team.

Practice head(s):

Elíseo Martínez; Carolina González de la Fuente

Other key lawyers:

Carlos López-Mélida; Inés Ríus Díaz

Testimonials

‘Great experience in carrying out this practice in matters of great relevance. Great experts in the room.’

‘They are excellent strategists and know the criminal jurisdiction very well. It is a benchmark in the sector and the issues they handle are of a very relevant profile.’

I find that the firm is composed of very talented and experienced individuals. Its Corporate crime’s practice is very strong. The lawyers at Ius + Asquitas are very responsive and very creative.’

‘I enjoyed a lot working with Eliseo Martinez and Carolina Gonzalez de la Fuente. They are bright and articulate. They are dynamic, responsive and very client-friendly.’

‘Very capable and excellent strategist on international white collar matters and extradition matters.’

‘The human value of this firm is its great strength and it is carried out with great expertise. They not only technically face the projects but are very aware of the moment of vulnerability that they know their clients. Empathy is the keyword.’

‘Eliseo M. Martinez and Carlos López Mélida were extremely empathetic. They have made me feel safe and confident in the most difficult moments. They never stopped believing in me and the case. I am personally very grateful for all your professionalism and humanity.’

‘They have a fantastic team, made up of Eliseo Martinez, Carolina González and Carlos López Mélida. In the cases in which I have worked with them, Eliseo Martínez, who is the managing partner, stands out for having enormous peripheral vision, has an amazing ability to see the big picture, and detect any weakness in the case, however complex it may be. Carolina goes down to the detail and scrutinizes the case to the millimeter, and relies on Carlos López Mélida who directs the Commercial and Civil Litigation department, since these cases have a strong economic component. Carlos stands out for having deep knowledge in economic and commercial matters, and an unusual clarity and precision of writing.’

Key clients

Plataforma de Perjudicados de Abengoa

ARC Global Trader

OCU (Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios)

D.I.S. – Esportes e Organizaçao dos Atletas Profissionais (FAAP)

FEVITUR

Beaulac’s CEO, Vicente Ferro

Globalcaja

Asociación de Usuarios de Servicios Bancarios Ausbanc España

 

Santander España Merchant Services

Work highlights

  • Advised the Plataforma de Perjudicados de Abengoa (association of shareholders and bondholders) on criminal proceedings before the Audiencia Nacional against the former chairman of Abengoa.
  • Represented 3,000 affected members of the biggest Spanish consumer association, Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU), against BANCO POPULAR (today Banco Santander) and PwC in an alleged false accounting and embezzlement case.
  • Advised the Brazilian sport event organizer D.I.S. – Esportes e Organizaçao de Eventos and the Brazilian Federation of Professional Athletes Federation in a private corruption case against the famous football player Neymar Jr.

Jones Day

Jones Day's investigations and white-collar defence team remained busy during 2019 and 2020 despite the Covid-19 crisis. It maintains a balanced client base of individuals and companies, and benefits from the firm's broad international office network, which allows it to work closely with colleagues based outside of Spain. Recent work spans internal investigations and cases involving allegations of fraud, embezzlement and bribery. Well-regarded partner José Bonilla heads the practice, which includes key associate Berta Viqueira Sierra.

Practice head(s):

José Bonilla

Other key lawyers:

Berta Viqueira Sierra; Daniel Echevarría

Oliva-Ayala Abogados

Oliva-Ayala Abogados is a well-respected business criminal law boutique in the Spanish market; it assists corporates and private clients in criminal investigations concerning fraud, embezzlement, bribery and money laundering, as well as bankruptcy-related offences. Ignacio Ayala Gómez is the managing partner. Javier Sánchez-Vera Gómez-Trelles is also noted.

Simmons & Simmons

The crime, fraud and investigations practice sits within the dispute resolution department at Simmons & Simmons and is equipped to represent both individuals and major companies in complex criminal cases. Fernando Aizpún is well known in the market, having represented clients in high-profile criminal proceedings; he co-leads the practice with Andrés Mochales, who draws on over 30 years of experience in civil and criminal litigation.

Practice head(s):

Fernando Aizpún; Andrés Mochales

Other key lawyers:

Alejandra Escalada; Rocío Barrero

Testimonials

‘The S&S team is especially operational, with great agility and professionalism when it comes to providing advice on this matter.’

‘Especially remarkable would be Fernando Aizpun, for his great ability to approach the most appropriate strategy for each case and his great professional qualities to carry it out.’

‘Fernando Aizpun: a lot of experience in the sector, calm and great analytical capacity.’

Work highlights

  • Defense of a company in a lawsuit for fraud and misappropriation; it is accused of having collaborated in the appropriation of millions of euros.
  • Defending a client in a criminal investigation in relation to international corruption and bribery.
  • Representing a company in a criminal proceeding in regard to alleged deceit in relation to investments in real estate properties.