Peers and clients say:
"Alejandro is an outstanding asset recovery lawyer"
"He is a highly skilled professional"
"Mr Pignataro is a top-notch name in the field"
Alejandro Pignataro (LLM in American law with a concentration in international business practice from Boston University, 2003) is a partner at Pignataro Abogados (Costa Rica), a boutique corporate law firm committed to providing top-level legal advice to a select group of corporate and individual clients. Alejandro has over 20 years of experience advising foreign and national corporations, financial institutions and individuals with their business dealings in Costa Rica. Alejandro’s practice focuses mainly on corporate M&A and asset tracing and recovery.
What do you enjoy most about your work as a commercial fraud and asset tracing specialist?
Helping victims of fraud, insolvency or corruption is one of the most rewarding parts of asset recovery work.
I also enjoy working with interdisciplinary teams of experts (fellow counsel, private investigators, forensic accountants, etc) in different parts of the world.
Strategy plays a crucial role in this field of work, which implies navigating different legal systems, including civil and common law countries, and using the remedies available in each. This is where being a member of ICC FraudNet comes in extremely handy, as time is typically of the essence in these matters – and it provides a network of previously vetted, well-versed experts globally, who are ready to act 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In what ways is technology disrupting corruption and money laundering efforts?
Technology is both an ally and an enemy in the fight against corruption and money laundering. It is an ally as it serves to process large amounts of data swiftly, identify patterns through artificial intelligence and provide great tools for data mining. On the other hand, it also enables criminals via blockchain and cryptocurrencies, for example, to hide their ill-gotten proceeds, thus making it harder to trace and go after them.
How has covid-19 impacted asset recovery practice so far, and what do you think the long term ramifications of it will be?
The sanitary crisis and the state of emergency declared by many countries worldwide has had an impact on court systems – ranging from their suspension for days and weeks, to the evolution in the use of technology (videoconference hearings, for example) as a means to continue advancing court proceedings.
The downturn in the economy will certainly lead to a rise in the number of insolvency and bankruptcy litigation, corruption and fraud cases.
Looking ahead, given the boost that the pandemic is having on advancing the fourth industrial revolution towards a more virtual dynamic in most activities, it seems technology will have an even more important role in investigative and tracing efforts, as more online transactions will inevitably lead to more frequent and complex internet frauds.
What has been your most interesting case to date and why?
All cases in asset recovery are exciting, different and interesting in their own way.
One that I recall particularly well had to do with a fraudster who raised investor money to acquire certain assets, subsequently simulated giving them as collateral to a financial entity (with which it colluded), and had the financial entity foreclose on them for the fraudster to repurchase them thereafter, having ripped off the investors completely.
For this purpose, the fraudster put together a multilevel, multi-jurisdictional corporate structure that ended in Costa Rica.
Our work on the matter was limited to proving that the nominee shareholders were nothing more than that, yet it led to us revealing crucial information to the overall investigation.
What role do development agencies have in the improvement of asset recovery processes?
The role of development agencies is very important in, among other things, advancing transparency policies for legal vehicles via each country’s implementation of ultimate beneficial-owner registries (for example, in deterring money laundering); promoting uniform insolvency and bankruptcy legislation that allows businesses to turn around or wind up quicker, and thus protect value for their creditors; and sharing best practices among nations, as well as funding training programmes for their enforcement agencies.