Jersey law firm branches out in US

JERSEY law firm Baker & Partners has launched a sister firm in Washington DC.

Stephen Baker and Jack de Kluiver
Stephen Baker and Jack de Kluiver

Baker de Kluiver is headed by recently retired United States Department of Justice assistant deputy chief Jack de Kluiver, who was in the Island last week to give a presentation on US sanctions.

Mr de Kluiver has for the past ten years been lead representative of the Justice Department on the Financial Action Task Force and during 20 years in the department has been instrumental in bringing to justice a number of high-profile names such as Bernie Madoff, Sani Abacha and Pavlo Lazarenko, as well as hefty fines for HSBC, Credit Suisse and BNP Paribas.

Speaking to finance industry professionals at The Royal Yacht hotel, he described the oversight of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as ‘huge’, now spanning 27 countries with which US persons were not permitted to trade or do business. Such territories included not only the most obvious such as Iraq, Syria, North Korea and Cuba but also some African countries dealing in ‘blood diamonds’ and most recently Venezuela, with different rules applying in each country.

Mr de Kluiver said that not only US residents but anyone with a Green Card could face sanctions even if they were living outside the country.

Sanctions could apply to many goods and services, he said, including to manufacturing components and even technologies, such as GPS systems, as well as financial products. He cited a recent case in which Chinese technology company ZTE had been fined $1.18 billion for purchasing components from the United States, then creating products that were sold on to countries on the US sanctions list.

He warned that the rules were not only complex, but liable to change at any time, with companies also potentially liable under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as well as the US Patriot Act, if commercial activity was seen as a threat to national security.

In terms of business carried out in Jersey, Mr de Kluiver said that dollar transactions flowing through the Island would almost certainly touch New York at some point and therefore likely to be picked up by OFAC.

Speaking after the presentation, Baker & Co’s senior partner Stephen Baker said the new sister firm in Washington would aim to provide services in three areas.

‘The first is to provide US regulatory advice to offshore financial institutions who, if they have any sense whatsoever, will keep the closest eye on the shifting US regulatory marketplace. A colossal amount of money held in Jersey is held in US dollars and that means that everybody must have it on their radar.

‘The second is international financial regulation, by which I mean advising governments. Jack has led the US Department of Justice delegation for the past decade and I have also done this sort of work and took part in the Offshore Group of Banking Supervisors review of Gibraltar some years ago, so that is something we can build on,’ he said.

‘The third aspect is acting for institutions or individuals caught up in offshore multi-jurisdictional disputes, usually where dollars are involved. Again, I have been involved in multi-jurisdictional asset recovery for many years – often not involving Jersey – and I have built up a large contact base.’

Advocate Baker added that although mainly known in the Island for high-profile criminal work, civil and commercial litigation and regulatory work now accounted for over 90% of what Baker & Partners took on.

In recent years the Jersey lawyer has acted for the government of Brazil, the National Accountability Bureau of Pakistan, and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC).

Top Stories

More From The Jersey Evening Post

UK & International News