Mares & Mares' hot practice over the last 12 months has been their white-collar crime one, according to Managing Partner Mihai Mares. Trigger-happy authorities have been the main driver of work, with Mares expecting the levels of activity to continue to increase in light of the upcoming Whistleblowing Directive.
"Our white-collar crime practice has been our flagship department since the get-go," begins Mares. To reflect the level of activity over the past 12 months, he says they've increased their headcount "having added two Senior Associates over the past year."
Speaking of the most representative work that the firm has focused on in 2021, Mares highlights a number of cases. "We have quite a diverse pool of clients, ranging from corporate executives to large multinationals. Right now, we are dealing with a very large case of anticorruption involving a former executive of a French multinational IT company," Mares says. He reports that the case is currently being investigated by Romania's anti-corruption authority.
"Furthermore, we’ve had a rather interesting money laundering case concerning a German entrepreneur venture capitalist," which Mares reports was quite "geographically diverse" and involved a large number of jurisdictions, including Germany and the UK. "Moreover, we’ve helped an American executive clear his name in a case involving embezzlement charges from his former company," Mares says.
"In Romania, right now, one of the most important topics is the application of EU law and CJEU jurisprudence," Mares continues. "We were part of a case before the CJEU, concerning Euro Box," which Mares argues "is of great importance to Romania," as it will affect the way the High Court of Cassation works.
Finally, Mares reports that tax fraud cases have also been prominent. "We were involved in tax fraud cases and have cooperated with a number of tax consultants and fiscal experts to deal with these complex matters. We even worked on a cigarette smuggling case involving a Romanian transport company that was accused of cross-border cigarette smuggling," Mares says.
In terms of what's been driving business, aside from the firm's positioning as a white-collar crime boutique, Mares explains that "the status of the business environment in Romania is such that the prosecutors are now more likely than ever before to tackle big economic cases – there is less reluctance from officials to act, which, in turn, generates work for us."
Looking ahead, Mares predicts the practice to perform even better. "I do expect that our caseload will increase – we are a firm of action, so to speak, meaning that we have to act in order to stay among the leaders in the business." Mares concludes by saying that he expects internal investigations, largely as a consequence of whistleblowing activities, to be the first thing to ramp up as 2022 goes on.