The London law firm is taking advantage of global political headwinds buffeting high-net worth individuals who need international protection.
Law firm Kingsley Napley has opened a one-stop international protection practice co-headed by former barrister Aaron Watkins as political headwinds across the globe increase demand for these services.
Watkins, who is joining the firm’s criminal litigation team, will focus on helping HNW, high-profile individuals who are under scrutiny and face the risk of prosecution by authorities, whether from the likes of the Serious Fraud Office, National Crime Agency, HMRC or the FCA in the UK, or equivalent agencies overseas.
The new practice is offering a one-stop shop service to such clients on extradition, asylum, immigration, criminal investigation and reputation. Normally, HNW and politically exposed persons receive less joined-up advice as they may need to use a variety of specialist firms to address the issues they face, the firm said.
Watkins will develop and co-lead the international protection practice alongside partner Rebecca Niblock drawing on expertise from across the firm in criminal litigation, immigration, reputation management and other areas.
He is highly regarded in the fields of extradition, mutual legal assistance, connected areas including asylum, public law, and in financial and business crime. His career to date has been at the bar, as a member of Matrix until 2019, followed by Cloth Fair Chambers from 2019 until now.
He has appeared in leading cases, both in the High Court and
Supreme Court, defending individuals and representing companies
and governments in numerous complex matters. He also has a
significant advisory practice and extensive experience of
investigations in both the UK and multi-jurisdictional cases.
“Our international protection practice will provide specialist support and advice to individuals facing complex situations across multiple jurisdictions, including extradition or Interpol notices, asset denial (including asset forfeiture orders or unexplained wealth orders), immigration and asylum issues or international family or financial arrangements. In addition, Aaron has the expertise to advise on a range of financial crime and public law matters,” Louise Hodges, head of Kingsley Napley’s criminal litigation team, said.
“This is an exciting new chapter for me professionally. There is a real opportunity to cement Kingsley Napley’s reputation as the go-to firm for International Protection assistance and I am looking forward to working with excellent lawyers like Jonathan Grimes, Katherine Tyler, Katie Newbury, Elspeth Guild and Nick Rollason to deliver on this, as well as Kingsley Napley’s wider criminal litigation practice,” Watkins said.
Increasingly oligarchs, foreign businessmen and other high net worth individuals are being subject to AML checks, Interpol notices, and travel restrictions for themselves and their families. This can happen when the origin or movement of their wealth, or the way political authorities view their political history, are under examination and they come under the spotlight.
Hong Kong is as an example of a jurisdiction where, with
political winds having changed in the last few years, potentially
very wealthy people are coming under more scrutiny or facing
questions for activities that would have merited no attention
five years ago. The aim of Kingsley Napley's new practice is to
support HNWs generally whose wealth and assets might come under
the spotlight, whether they have an Interpol notice attached to
their name, or encounter problems travelling to the US because of
sanctions, or the SFO might be probing money-laundering concerns
related to some of their transactions, a spokesperson for the
firm told this publication. “They might find it difficult to
cross borders or get involved in business activity because of
political headwinds that have created questions about the origin
of their wealth,” she added.