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.
London-based BCL Solicitors is known as a go-to firm for individuals in high-profile UK investigations, but the firm has also acted in several recent headline-grabbing matters further afield.
BCL Solicitors is one of a few niche UK criminal defence firms that specialises in defending companies and individuals in criminal and regulatory investigations and prosecutions. The firm has had a role in many of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) biggest investigations in recent years, including probes targeting Tesco, Rolls-Royce, Barclays and Unaoil.
BCL was founded by Ian Burton, a seasoned criminal defence specialist listed in Who’s Who Legal: Investigations and 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.
Another name to know is partner Michael Drury, who was formerly the director for legal affairs at GCHQ, the UK’s intelligence and security organisation.
He is also listed in Who’s Who Legal: Investigations alongside partners Shaul Brazil, Jane Glass, Richard Sallybanks and Harry Travers. Brazil, Glass, Sallybanks, Travers and Shula de Jersey are listed in Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence. Brazil also featured in GIR’s 40 Under 40 list in 2017.
Most of the firm’s recent additions to its 11-lawyer strong partnership have been internal promotions. BCL has promoted four of its London white-collar lawyers to partner in the past three years: de Jersey, Richard Reichman, John Binns and Julian Hayes.
BCL is representing a group of companies and individuals facing criminal investigations in Denmark, Germany and the UK over so-called cum-ex trades that deprived European countries of billions in unclaimed tax revenue.
The firm has recent experience steering companies to favourable results. It represented Monaco oil consultancy Unaoil in one of the SFO’s largest-ever bribery probes, which led to investigations into several other companies. The SFO discontinued its investigation into Unaoil in June 2019 without charging the company.
The achievement is notable because several of the company’s executives have been prosecuted. The SFO secured convictions of two former Unaoil executives in June 2020 who conspired to make corrupt payments to Iraqi officials. In the US, the former CEO and COO of the company pleaded guilty in 2019 to one count of conspiracy to violate the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. BCL did not act in the cases against individuals.
BCL Solicitors successfully blocked two recent attempts by the Turkish government to appeal against the High Court of England and Wales’ decision to halt the extradition of Turkish media baron Hami Akin Ipek from the UK. The Turkish government alleged that Ipek had played a role in organising the country’s failed 2016 coup, but the court blocked the request in 2018, ruling that it was politically motivated.
Brazil represented John Dougall, a former vice president at Johnson & Johnson subsidiary DePuy, in a Greek bribery investigation. Dougall was acquitted of fraud and money laundering in July 2019 after an investigation into payments made to Greek doctors to secure sales contracts. He was cleared of fraud on double jeopardy grounds as he had already been convicted of bribery in the UK on the same facts, while the acquittal for money laundering charges was ordered based on the evidence.
Sallybanks secured an acquittal for Tesco’s former food commercial director John Scouler in 2018 after a judge ruled that prosecutor’s evidence against him was too weak. 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, both of whom were also acquitted.
BCL has represented executives in SFO investigations into large corporates, including Tesco, pharmaceutical company GSK, and engineering giant Rolls Royce. In addition, the firm regularly assists clients in extradition proceedings.
Sallybanks acted for 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 was not charged in the investigation. The SFO charged four other former Barclays executives in the matter, who were all subsequently acquitted in 2020.
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 charges that it failed to prevent bribery 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 in connection with an SFO investigation into potential foreign bribery violations. With BCL’s help, the investigation into its clients was eventually dropped.
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.
GIR’s guide to the world’s top 100 corporate investigation firms can be found here.