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Brazil firm hires from boutique to launch white-collar crime practice

06 April 2017
Global Investigations Review

Mattos Filho, Veiga Filho, Marrey Jr e Quiroga Advogados has hired Rogerio Taffarello from São Paulo boutique Andrade e Taffarello Advogados, to add white-collar crime capability – complementing the existing compliance department – to the firm. By Thomas Muskett-Ford

Taffarello, 36, joined on 6 April to form a new white-collar crime department at the firm, which previously relied on specialised boutiques for advice in that area.

Mattos Filho’s managing partner, José Eduardo Carneiro Queiroz, told GIR’s sister publication, Latin Lawyer, that says several practice areas, including antitrust, capital markets, environmental law and tax, have become dependent on white-collar crime advice, making the department’s launch critical. He added that the international scope of many anti-corruption investigations means foreign clients often require white-collar crime counsel as well.

Taffarello agreed that the market for white-collar crime has become dependent on other practice areas. “In the last five years, I needed to collaborate with tax, financial and administrative lawyers all the time and I realised we were missing some skills,” he says. “That’s why we started this conversation with Mattos Filho.”

Taffarello expects Mattos Filho’s international reach to be a particular boon for his practice. “Sometimes it’s very difficult for a lawyer in a boutique to develop relationships with law firms and lawyers in jurisdictions like the US and the UK or to understand the peculiarities of their legislation,” he says.

The tie-up is a result of a longstanding working relationship between Taffarello’s old firm and Mattos Filho. However, his boutique’s co-founder, Pedro Luiz Bueno de Andrade, did not make the move. Instead, Andrade recently accepted a merger invitation from Massud e Sarcedo Advogados Associados – a white-collar crime boutique in São Paulo led by Leonardo Massud and Leandro Sarcedo.

Andrade says the split was amicable, but expresses very different views about the future of his practice. “I still believe criminal law fits better in a boutique firm,” he says. “Boutiques provide a tailor-made service, dividing classified and confidential information with only a very select group of people, while avoiding possible conflicts of interests, which are more frequent when you deal with a very large number of clients.”

Demand for white-collar crime advice in Brazil has increased significantly in the past few years, not least owing to Operation Car Wash, the sprawling investigation linked to the country’s state-controlled oil company Petrobras. Mattos Filho’s managing partner draws analogies with the US, noting how increased regulation encouraged firms in the 1990s to hire specialists in the field. Queiroz believes the same thing is occurring in Brazil today as hitherto unregulated areas come under government scrutiny. “The Clean Companies Act and Operation Car Wash; these developments are only confirmation that this practice will grow,” Queiroz added.