White Collar Crime e-Report 2014 | Page 2

Special Focus: White Collar Crime Global perspective on crime If 2013 was about raising awareness of the extent of white collar crime across Iberia and proposing key legislation to strengthen regulatory provisions, 2014 is about businesses and law firms moving beyond just speculation. And, against a backdrop of internationalisation, finding out what fulfilling anti-corruption obligations means in the current economy. Over the last year, Iberian law firms have seen a continued increase in corruption in both the public and private sectors, through embezzlement, tax fraud, money laundering and disloyal administration – and from the top down. “There has been an increase, not only in the number of these corruption cases, but the pressure on the Authorities to prosecute,” explains Alfredo Guerrero, a Litigation Partner at King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin, referring to growing public concern about the investigation and punishment of white collar crimes. In the last year, Spain has seen numerous investigations, highlights of which include the ongoing alleged illicit financing of the political party PP, the proceedings launched against the public company Pescanova, the Bárcenas Affair, the Bankia criminal investigation, and a case that is currently making the headlines around the world – the Infanta Cristina summoned over fraud. In Portugal, there has been the welldocumented ‘Face Oculta’ – the ongoing and far-reaching political corruption, money laundering and corporate tax evasion scandal, and the first formal accusations in the long running ‘Hurricane Operation’. Post2010 has also seen criminal investigations into the rating agencies and the companies trained in securities related to market manipulation and insider trading, some of which are now coming to court. Navigating international waters From a cross-border perspective, the economic and financial crisis has intensified 52 • IBERIAN LAWYER • January / February 2014 international business relations within the EU and beyond, as Iberian businesses internationalise their operations in emerging economies to aid growth. This is bringing with it complex criminal activity against information systems and other forms of cybercrime, leading to extraditions or criminal proceedings and judicial investigations. “These crimes are particularly sophisticated and often involve several jurisdictions,” explains Sofia Ribeiro Branco, a Litigation & Arbitration Partner at Vieira de Almeida. “It means that law firms dealing with this crossborder paradigm are having to adopt a global perspective on disputes.” But while there is concern, international or Spanish companies are very used to dealing with cross-border issues, says Bernardo del Rosal, Of Counsel at Clifford Chance in Madrid. Lawyers too are successfully meeting the challenge to help businesses carefully navigate cross-border anti-corruption rules and regulations, which are as numerous as they are complex. There is also increasing pressure on being able to know and familiarise themselves with international treaties and instruments of judicial cooperation. “Our lawyers are always having to review internal policies related to anti-bribery,” says Corporate Crime Partner Paulo de Sá e Cunha from Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira, Lisbon. Furthermore, understanding the laws and trends in different countries is becoming easier with an increasing number of Iberian law firms leveraging the advantages of having an office and joint venture abroad. Portugal’s progress Over the last year, the fight against white collar crime has led to Portugal and Spain aligning parts of their legal framework with EU Directives. There has been a significant piece of national legislation in Portugal with regards to the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of white collar crime. Having established preventive and repressive measures on combating money laundering and terrorism (expected to be enacted shortly) financial institutions will have additional obligations to fulfil. In addition, there has also been an amendment to the Taxation Law within the recently approved State Budget modifying the law. “There were some crimes that could have decisions of conviction discharged if the amount was paid by the debtor,” says www.iberianlawyer.com