Peers and clients say:
"He is an extremely able and expert practitioner"
"Matthias has significant experience in asset recovery"
"He takes a collaborative approach"
Matthias specialises in complex domestic and multi-jurisdictional proceedings and investigations, including fraud and white-collar crime, asset recovery, insolvency, international mutual assistance, international sanctions and ESG-litigation. His practice focuses on banking and finance disputes. Drawing on first-hand experience in the sector, he handles complex matters requiring specialist knowledge in derivative instruments, hedge funds and financial products in general. He regularly acts in contentious corporate, commercial and governance disputes across various other sectors (healthcare, natural resources, sports and trusts).
What did you find most challenging about entering practice white-collar crime practice?
Learning how to cut through complexity. I consider this to be one of the main challenges in our profession. Being able to break down a complex set of facts and distil the essential information into a compelling, simple and convincing narrative is crucial. All the more in a world with ever-growing amounts of data.
As a diversity and inclusion officer of the IBA’s anti-corruption committee, what are the committee’s goals and how are they being achieved?
We share best practice and communicate any legal and other developments on anti-corruption laws, compliance practices, enforcement trends and asset recovery issues to a global legal audience. In particular, we aim to assist practitioners in areas where anti-corruption laws and procedures are relatively under-developed or under-enforced.
We achieve this on the one hand through our conferences and webinars. On the other hand, there are various projects, reports and resolutions which form the basis of our input to policy makers like the UN, the OECD and governmental agencies. One of our latest initiatives is the creation of the IBA Ukraine Anti-Corruption task force, of which I am a member.
What do you enjoy most about working as a white-collar crime litigator?
The sense of purpose from helping clients to “right a wrong” – and doing this collaboratively: with the client, their multi-disciplinary advisors and our own case team.
In your opinion, should younger lawyers specialise or keep a broad practice when starting out in their career?
Specialisation is important, no question, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of gathering experience in various fields. You should, to a certain extent, allow for some “trial and error” – as long as you get the timing right.
I was a late bloomer – I started out as an M&A / capital markets lawyer and worked in investment banking before returning to the bar. This was essential experience – there’s scarcely a day that goes by where I’m not drawing on the knowledge acquired over those years.
How have frauds become more sophisticated over the past five years, and how do you think they could evolve in the near future?
What may have changed and become more sophisticated is the economic landscape and business environment in which we operate. Processes have become more complex and there are more business functions and departments to interact with. Paired with technological change and an increasing amount of data, this increases compliance risks and makes it more complicated to uncover certain types of fraud. I believe that this trend is set to continue.
What do clients look for when selecting a white-collar crime specialist?
A specialist should of course be an expert in their field but, first and foremost, I believe clients want an advocate who is going to fight passionately for their cause. That requires tenacity, responsiveness and a strong commercial acumen – so they can quickly grasp both the customer’s business and the issues at stake. Clients want someone who puts their cause first – someone who is at the same time courageous, humble and accountable.
Teamwork is also vital. Clients will be looking at the strengths of the group of people the firm puts forward, and its composition in terms of diversity.
What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?
Create the opportunity, rather than just waiting for it. Be independent and don’t be afraid to venture off the beaten track. Above all – and this is no secret – work hard, be patient and build resilience. And don’t forget that there is an element of luck in every situation / outcome.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career to date. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
That would be a very long list! What I can say is that what I enjoy most about this profession is that the learning never stops. That’s a constant source of inspiration and gives me the energy to keep going. I’d like to give that back by spending more time mentoring and coaching younger team members.