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International Business Crime & Fraud – Romania

posted 3 months ago


Mihai Mareș




Founded in 2006, Mareș & Mareș has continuously evolved, becoming today a leader in the field of business criminal law in Romania. We are a highly esteemed and trusted law firm, based in Bucharest, with exceptional expertise in handling complex cases of economic crime and corruption.

With a profound understanding of the Romanian judicial system, we provide legal assistance and representation to a diverse range of clients, including business people, top executives, entrepreneurs, politicians, major industrial groups, financial institutions, as well as large local and international companies.

Managing Partner Ph.D. Mihai Mareș specialises in criminal defence for senior executives, entrepreneurs, major industrial groups, financial institutions, and large international and domestic companies, with a remarkable track record of handling corruption and economic offences at both national and cross-border levels, representing clients across various sectors.

He has successfully crafted defence strategies and advocated in numerous highly publicised cases involving money laundering, fraud, bribery and other forms of corporate misconduct, representing before all courts in Romania in cases investigated by DIICOT (The Agency for the Investigation of Organized Crime and Terrorism), DNA (Anti-Corruption Agency) and ANI (National Integrity Agency).

Lately, our firm has actively participated in numerous cases related to anti-bribery and corruption, addressing concerns related to money laundering, tax evasion and insider dealing.

Notably, we are presently deeply engaged in a comprehensive legal matter under investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office associated with the High Court of Cassation and Justice – the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA). This complex case involves a considerable number of defendants facing allegations spanning multiple offences, including abuse of office and money laundering.

Fortunately, over the past 12 months, Romania has managed to navigate through global crises and conflicts unscathed. While the nation’s primary concern remains its economic and financial situation, recent indicators point towards a revitalisation of economic activity in the latter part of 2023. This resurgence is attributed to heightened retail sales, a surge in service-related industries and a robust construction sector.

This positive shift, combined with slight improvements in select sentiment indicators, paints a favourable picture for the economic landscape in 2024.

Amid this upward trajectory, Mareș & Mareș finds itself in a dynamic position, witnessing an increase in both the quantity and complexity of cases. Clients are seeking specialised legal assistance, not only in criminal law matters, but also in the realm of whistleblowing – especially considering the new legislation enacted during this period.

Facing these unique challenges has prompted us to proactively adjust our strategies, effectively navigating through the changes. Our team’s resilience and agility have been evident, ensuring minimal disruptions to our services.

During this period, we have seized the opportunity to improve our capabilities, streamline processes and fortify client relationships. Consequently, our current caseload stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to delivering dependable and uninterrupted legal support.

As we move forward, our steadfast focus remains on providing innovative solutions to meet the ever-evolving needs of our clients in these dynamic times.

From our viewpoint, the trends in white-collar crime are undergoing evolution, with certain key themes gaining more prominence. Notably, there is a heightened emphasis on corporate accountability, with judicial authorities consistently holding corporations responsible for white-collar crimes. The shift in prosecution focus from individuals to corporations has also influenced specialised doctrine, leading to a more in-depth exploration of this subject. Until recently, relevant legal texts lacked the extensive details now present in discussions about corporate accountability in the realm of white-collar crimes.

Another notable theme contributing to a surge in criminal cases pertains to cybercrime. Technological advancements have given rise to new methods for perpetrating both traditional crimes, such as fraud, and those specific to computer-based offences. However, law enforcement agencies are progressively bolstering their capabilities to investigate and prosecute offences related to data breaches, identity theft and other cybercrimes. This evolving landscape underscores the need for a proactive response to stay ahead of criminals leveraging technology for illicit activities.

Incentive programmes for whistleblowers are gaining traction, aiming to motivate individuals with insider information to step forward and report white-collar crimes. These initiatives provide financial rewards and protection against retaliation, leading to an increase in reports and the emergence of several corporate-related offences that demand attention.

This category of offences warrants special consideration, as companies often prefer internal resolution before involving law enforcement authorities. Balancing internal investigations with external legal scrutiny becomes crucial in addressing and remedying these issues effectively.

Lastly, it’s crucial to note that Romania has been actively addressing corruption, with continuous efforts to combat bribery and corruption prevalent in both the public and private sectors. The substantial number of cases currently under investigation by DIICOT and DNA serves as a clear affirmation of the country’s commitment to tackling these issues head-on.

Navigating legal reforms requires a nuanced and comprehensive strategy. A prospective shift in Romania’s legislative landscape for business crime defence may involve the implementation of a well-defined corporate compliance defence mechanism. This suggested reform aims to incentivise and acknowledge companies actively adopting and maintaining robust compliance programmes. The overarching goal is to prevent and detect instances of business crime, promoting a proactive stance towards ethical business practices.

The advent of digitalisation has deeply influenced investigations across diverse sectors, presenting both opportunities and challenges for law enforcement agencies, private investigators and other entities engaged in investigative processes.

In the realm of digital transformation, there has been an unprecedented surge in the scale and accessibility of digital data. Platforms such as electronic communication, social media and cloud storage play a significant role in generating extensive information, proving invaluable in investigative processes. The utilisation of advanced data analytics tools empowers investigators to swiftly analyse vast datasets, identifying patterns, connections and trends with heightened efficiency. This, in turn, enhances the detection of criminal activities.

The digital age has brought forth new forms of crime, notably cybercrime, necessitating a paradigm shift in investigations. Tracking digital footprints, analysing malware and understanding intricate cybersecurity threats have become integral components of the investigative landscape.

Due to the impact of digitalisation, a significant portion of evidence now resides in electronic formats. Vital information, including emails, text messages and social media posts, plays a pivotal role in investigations. Proficiency in the proper handling and authentication of electronic evidence has become an essential skill set for investigators navigating this digital environment.

In the dynamic realm of Financial Technology (FinTech), significant transformations are molding the legal landscape, especially within the legal departments of financial institutions, regulatory bodies and related industries. The swift evolution of FinTech innovations often surpasses existing regulatory frameworks, prompting legal departments to adopt a vigilant approach to evolving regulations. Close collaboration with regulatory bodies becomes imperative to ensure compliance with both newly established and existing laws.

At the heart of FinTech advancements lies a reliance on data, which poses challenges for legal departments regarding data protection and privacy laws. Ensuring compliance with such regulations as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and local data protection laws becomes paramount in this context.

Legal departments can leverage technology as a strategic asset for ongoing monitoring and assurance of compliance. This entails adopting state-of-the-art AI-powered tools designed to track regulatory changes in real-time, proactively assess compliance risks, and streamline internal audit processes with increased efficiency. Integrating these technological solutions enables legal teams to stay ahead of evolving regulatory landscapes, mitigate potential risks and optimise their internal audit capabilities, ultimately reinforcing their commitment to unwavering compliance standards.

In an era characterised by an increasing reliance on digital transactions and platforms, legal departments must shift their focus towards prioritising cybersecurity and fraud prevention. It becomes imperative to establish robust legal frameworks that effectively address cyber threats, data breaches and unauthorised access to financial systems. This strategic emphasis is crucial for safeguarding digital transactions and maintaining the integrity of financial operations.

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have greatly supported legal professionals, particularly in the domains of business crime and fraud law, by offering sophisticated tools and technologies to augment their capabilities.

AI possesses the capability to rapidly analyse extensive datasets, revealing patterns indicative of fraudulent activities. Through adept machine-learning algorithms, complex datasets are processed, anomalies detected and potential red flags highlighted. This provides lawyers with a more efficient avenue for identifying fraudulent patterns compared to traditional methods.

An additional crucial aspect is the implementation of AI-powered document review tools, revolutionising the scrutiny of extensive legal documents, contracts and financial records. This innovation also enhances the identification of irregularities or potential fraudulent transactions.

Within the legal domain, AI-driven search algorithms play a pivotal role in significantly enhancing the efficiency of research and e-discovery processes. These algorithms are leveraged to swiftly extract relevant information pertinent to business crime and fraud, resulting in substantial savings in both time and resources.

When delivering legal advice to clients situated in other jurisdictions or with overseas operations, it is imperative to ensure a well-informed advisory scope that comprehensively addresses the complexities and nuances of cross-border legal matters.

To achieve this, we are currently fostering partnerships with legal experts and law firms in various jurisdictions relevant to our clients’ operations – an essential component we consider fundamental for any law firm. Collaborating with local experts enables us to gain valuable insights into jurisdiction-specific legal intricacies, cultural factors and the latest developments.

Mareș & Mareș actively participates in international legal networks and professional associations to maintain connections with legal professionals across different jurisdictions. We regard this engagement as highly significant, as these networks provide opportunities for knowledge exchange, collaboration and access to local expertise.

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