Firm / Organisation

MONFRINI BITTON KLEIN

Current View:
Also ranked in:

This content is provided by MONFRINI BITTON KLEIN.

Founder: Enrico Monfrini (of counsel)
Senior Partners: Yves Klein, David Bitton
Number of partners: 5
Number of lawyers: 10
Languages: English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Dutch

Firm Overview:
Founded in 1978 by Enrico Monfrini, the firm became renown in international business law, complex litigation and arbitration. Since the end of the 1990s, Monfrini and Yves Klein developed the asset recovery practice of the firm by representing foreign governments in grand corruption cases, shareholders involved in class actions, bankrupt estates, victims of Ponzi schemes, and defrauded companies and individuals. With the arrival of David Bitton in 2015, the firm strengthened its white-collar crime and high-stakes divorces practices. In 2017, the firm changed its name and became a litigation-only practice in order to offer conflictfree services to its clients, focusing on asset recovery and white-collar crime proceedings. As the representative for Switzerland of ICC FraudNet, the leading global network of fraud and asset recovery lawyers, the firm benefits from correspondents in more than 70 jurisdictions and litigation support professionals, such as forensic accountants, insolvency practitioners, investigators and litigation funders. The asset-tracing skills and connections of the firm are also at the disposal of individual and corporate clients seeking to enforce commercial, matrimonial or estate claims, judgments and arbitral awards, in Switzerland or elsewhere.

Main Areas of Practice:

Asset Recovery:
The firm is best known for being a global leader in conducting worldwide high-value recovery proceedings on behalf of foreign governments, victims of grand corruption and liquidators of insolvent banks. Over its history, the firm has developed innovative asset-recovery techniques, using a unique combination of criminal, mutual assistance, bankruptcy and civil proceedings to obtain compensation for its clients.
Contact: Yves Klein, Senior Partner
Email: [email protected]

Recent Cases:
Federal Republic of Nigeria v Abacha & al.:
Since 1999, the firm has been litigating and coordinating the ground breaking case of Nigeria v Abacha, where US$2 billion worth of bribes and diverted public funds have been recovered in 10 jurisdictions. An additional US$500 million are frozen and have been forfeited in first instance.
Lead Partners: Enrico Monfrini and Yves Klein

Republic of Angola v Dos Santos & al.:
Since 2019, the firm has been instructed by the Republic of Angola to litigate and coordinate the recovery proceedings against former public officials and their relatives for a value estimated to be in excess of US$100 billion.
Lead Partners: Enrico Monfrini and James Bouzaglo

Republic of Guinea v Beny Steinmetz & al.:
In 2014, the Government of the Republic of Guinea withdrew mining rights over the largest iron ore deposit in the world from Beny Steinmetz’ BSG companies, following investigations that showed that they had been obtained through bribery. Since 2017, the firm represents the Republic of Guinea as plaintiff suing for damages in Swiss criminal proceedings pending against Beny Steinmetz, in parallel to ICSID arbitration proceedings.
Lead Partners: Yves Klein and David Bitton

Stanford International Bank Ltd (in liquidation), Antigua & Barbuda:
Stanford International Bank Ltd (SIB) was an Antiguan bank owned and controlled by a US citizen, Robert Allen Stanford, who is responsible for operating the second largest Ponzi scheme in world’s history, leaving 25,000 creditors/investors with claims totalling in excess of US$7 billion. The Antiguan insolvency proceedings were recognised in Switzerland, and the firm was retained to represent SIB as the plaintiff in the Swiss criminal proceedings for fraud and money laundering that were pending before the Attorney General of Switzerland. It was also retained to bring torts claims against banks liable for money laundering before Swiss civil courts. In 2014, US$10 million were recovered through a criminal forfeiture order. Claims, including claw-back claims, in excess of US$400 million are being litigated in Switzerland before bankruptcy courts.
Lead Partners: Yves Klein

Banca Turco Romana SA, in liquidation, Romania:
Banca Turco Romana SA (BTR) became insolvent in 2002 following acts of fraud and embezzlement by its directors and shareholders. In 2014, the firm obtained recognition of the Romanian bankruptcy judgment by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA and was authorised to lodge a criminal complaint for money laundering against BTR’s past owners, to bring torts claims against the Swiss banks that facilitated the crimes, and to seek recognition in Switzerland of a US$190 million damages judgment. In 2017, the proceedings were expanded, leading to recognition, freeze or disclosure orders in ten jurisdictions.
Lead Partner: Yves Klein

White-Collar Crime:
The firm represents domestic and foreign clients in complex, trans-national litigation involving civil, criminal and mutual assistance proceedings. Contact: David Bitton, senior partner ([email protected])

Recent Cases:
Yves Bouvier v Dmitry Rybolovlev & al:
The firm coordinates the worldwide civil and criminal defence of Yves Bouvier, a prominent art dealer and the owner of the world’s largest art shipping and storage business, in the context of criminal and civil proceedings brought against him in 2015 by Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev in connection with 37 works of art purchased for more than US$2 billion over 10 years. Civil and criminal proceedings initiated against each other by Bouvier and Rybolovlev are underway in a number of jurisdictions.
Lead Partners: David Bitton and Yves Klein

Key Clients:
■ Federal Republic of Nigeria
■ Republic of Angola
■ Republic of Guinea
■ Stanford International Bank Ltd, in liquidation (Antigua and Barbuda)
■ Banca Turco Romana SA, in liquidation (Romania)
■ Banco Santos SA, in liquidation (Brazil)
■ Bilta (UK) Limited, in liquidation (England)
■ Saad Investments Company Limited – In Official Liquidation (Cayman Islands)
■ Yves Bouvier