BCL Solicitors LLP named in the 2018 GIR 100 top global investigations firms

BCL Solicitors LLP are delighted to be named in the Global Investigations Review (GIR) top 100 investigations firms – a guide to the world’s leading firms for corporate investigations.

The GIR 100 is an annual guide to the world’s leading cross-border investigations practices. Based on extensive research, they have selected 100 firms from around the world able to handle sophisticated cross-border government-led and internal investigations.

BCL Solicitors

A well-established London-based practice providing expert white-collar crime defence. The firm is currently acting for individuals in some of the authority’s highest-profile investigations, including into Unaoil, Tesco, Rolls-Royce and Barclays.

The firm

BCL Solicitors is a niche criminal defence firm that specialises in defending companies and individuals in criminal and regulatory investigations and prosecutions. BCL Solicitors has had a role in many of the SFO’s biggest investigations since the agency’s inception in 1987.

Over the years the firm’s work has become increasingly international.

BCL was founded by Ian Burton, a seasoned criminal defence specialist and nominee to Who’s Who Legal: Investigations, Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence. As senior partner, he has been involved in some of the most significant business crime investigations and prosecutions brought by the UK authorities over the past two decades.

Five more of the firm’s partners are listed in Who’s Who Legal: Investigations: Shaul Brazil, Michael Drury, Jane Glass, Richard Sallybanks and Harry Travers. Brazil, Glass, Sallybanks and Travers are also listed in Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence.

Drury was formerly the director for legal affairs at GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence and security organisation. Also, with significant government experience is Robin Booth, who was head of the fraud division and acting chief crown prosecutor at CPS headquarters in London.

In 2018, the firm added corporate crime, financial crime and regulatory investigations lawyer Richard Reichman to the partnership. This gives added strength to the firm, following the promotions of business crime lawyer John Binns, corporate and financial crime lawyer Julian Hayes, and business crime and regulation specialist Shula de Jersey to the partnership in 2017. Additionally, the firm has continued to recruit significantly at associate level to deal with the increased workload.

Recent events

BCL is currently acting for Tesco’s former food commercial director John Scouler whose retrial started in October 2018. In April 2017, the UK supermarket entered into a £129 million deferred prosecution agreement with the SFO to settle a £326 million accounting scandal. Scouler was charged alongside two other former executives in September 2016.

BCL is representing Monaco energy services company Unaoil on a criminal inquiry into bribery, corruption and money-laundering allegations by SFO. Meanwhile, the firm is acting for individuals in several separate Libor price-fixing investigations being conducted by authorities around the globe.

Partner Richard Sallybanks is representing Barclays’ former general counsel, Mark Harding, in connection with an SFO investigation into the bank’s fundraising efforts in Qatar to avoid a government bailout in 2008, according to press reports. Harding has not been charged.

GIR 40 under 40 nominee Shaul Brazil is representing John Dougall, a former vice president at DePuy, a subsidiary of pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, in a Greek bribery investigation. Dougall is accused of fraud and money laundering linked to payments made to Greek doctors to secure sales contracts. Dougall has already been convicted of bribery in the UK over the same facts.

Clients

BCL acts for Unaoil, and represents individuals in some of the highest-profile cases under investigations by the SFO. In addition, the firm regularly assists clients in extradition proceedings. On top of that, the firm provides advice to British public-service broadcaster Channel 4 on potential criminal issues before and after publication.

BCL has previously advised Dutch commodity trading company Trafigura Beheer in response to multiple global investigations and proceedings arising from a toxic waste dump in the Ivory Coast.
The firm was also retained by News Group Newspapers to handle requests from the London Metropolitan Police Service for information on the high-profile phone hacking matter.

Track record

BCL successfully acted for the only UK individual who was interviewed under caution in an investigation by the SFO into ICBC Standard Bank over bribery and corruption in Africa. ICBC Standard Bank agreed to pay £33 million to settle failure to prevent bribery charges in the UK’s first-ever deferred prosecution agreement. The SFO made no allegation of wrongdoing against the interviewee.

BCL also represented the UK president and the UK finance director of French engineering company Alstom SA in connection with an SFO investigation into potential foreign bribery violations, and what the SFO at the time called its biggest search operation. With BCL’s help, the investigation into its clients was eventually dropped.

The firm successfully acted for Georgy Shuppe, the son-in-law of the late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, in connection with an extradition request from Russia on allegations of fraud and murder of the defrauded party, a wealthy businessman Westminster Magistrates’ Court district judge Kenneth Grant rejected a Russian request for the extradition of Shuppe, who lives in the UK.

In a written ruling, the judge said that the claims against Shuppe were based on “the account of an anonymous witness who, in turn, reports what he was told by a third party who may or may not have been present when the conversation between two other individuals, not including the defendant, took place.”

Another high-profile extradition case the firm worked on concerned the former Georgian defence minister Davit Kezerashvili. Georgia’s Prosecutor General’s Office requested the extradition of Kezerashvili to face charges of embezzlement, and he was arrested while travelling in France in October 2013. While a French court dismissed the case, BCL was called upon again when Kezerashvili came to the UK in 2014. Michael Drury successfully defended Kezerashvili against the extradition request before the Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

GIR’s guide to the worlds top 100 corporate investigation firms can be found here.