JUVE Law Firm of the year

Compliance Audits and Investigations

Investigators focus on finance and auto industries

Seldom has a legal loophole cost the state as much money as the one exploited by dividend stripping (“cum-ex”), as a result of which ten to twelve billion euros are said to have slipped through its fingers. It will take years for the finance industry to work through the events. And this is not the only thorn in the industry’s side: Deutsche Bank recently reached a settlement with US authorities over improper dealings on the US real estate market. This cost the bank $7.2bn.

Even the auto industry is in turmoil: the diesel scandal is rippling outwards to include ever more auto manufacturers, as well as suppliers such as Bosch. The requisition of documents from VW’s legal counsel Jones Day caused a stir. And every compliance lawyer knew: anyone could be next. The conflict between the US and the German legal culture remains unbridgeable: whereas attorney-client privilege is sacrosanct in the US, in German and British law it is markedly more nuanced. In addition, many companies are currently in the process of implementing the new data protection regulations, which could be relevant in in-house investigations. The General Data Protection Regulation, in force since May, has made for tougher conditions.

More and more firms gain market share

With every new legal regulation, the realization spreads even among the entrepreneurial Mittelstand that compliance is not a phenomenon that one can simply sit out. The pressure of corporations on their suppliers and the growing demands of investors for their target objects to be legally “clean” mean that ever more firms are being called on for compliance advice. Criminal lawyers are often the first port of call, such as at AC Tischendorf, Heuking Kühn Lüer Wojtek, Kapellmann und Partner and Redeker Sellner Dahs.

German firms not the first choice for US cases

In compliance cases with a US aspect, however, the companies continue to rely primarily on US firms, which is how Jones Day came to advise on the VW instruction, for example, and why Deutsche Bank retained Latham & Watkins for negotiations with the US Department of Justice. One of the few German firms with excellent access to the US market is Pohlmann & Company, which, despite having German roots and no US office, is highly sought after in international instructions.

Most recently, it made headlines when VW monitor Larry Thompson hired name partner Dr. Andreas Pohlmann as a German advisor. This was all the more remarkable because even German firms with successful international networks such as Hengeler Mueller, Gleiss Lutz and CMS Hasche Sigle have trouble getting a foot in the door here. Nearly all firms – no matter whether they are already heavily involved in compliance or are still rather new to the field – are looking for reinforcements. But few have been willing to jump ship: only white collar crime expert Dr. Finn Zeidler left Latham & Watkins for Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.


This chapter includes those firms which offer interdisciplinary advice and which are involved in reviewing or establishing compliance structures as preventive measures or which deal with serious allegations. A separate overview presents firms which have been primarily involved in a specific area of compliance work. Other firms that deal with individual compliance topics can be found in the chapter on ?white collar crime and tax criminal law. Firms which deal with compliance as part of their work in other practice areas, such as ?antitrust, ?IT (esp. data protection), ?public procurement (esp. procurement bans), ?tax, ?corporate (managerial liability, due diligence), ?employment, ?banking and finance and ?insurance (esp. regulatory) can be found in the corresponding chapters.

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