In a reversal of the familiar poacher turned gamekeeper scenario, George Staple, the former head of the Serious Fraud Office, has been made head of Clifford Chance's new domestic and international fraud section.
Staple was first made a partner at Clifford Chance 30 years ago but he left five years ago for his five-year term of office as director of the SFO.
He said: “I'd always intended to come back to Clifford Chance when my tour of duty was over. The place has changed; it's a new office with new people.”
Managing partner of Clifford Chance's contentious practice Chris Perrin said several partners were being reassigned to Staple's newly-created regulatory group from corporate litigation and financial litigation as well as from non-contentious areas of practice.
These include David Mayhew, John Potts and Jeremy Sandelson from the litigation side and Tim Herrington and Ben Hawks (formerly a partner, now a consultant with the firm) from the non-contentious areas.
Potts said: “One or two of us have been heavily involved in fraud-related and regulatory advice for many years but as part of several larger practice groups. The arrival of George gives us an opportunity to refocus and put all the expertise into one group.”
The regulatory work arises naturally out of the many banking clients the firm has, he said. “Until now I've seconded assistants to the SFO and they've been very useful when they come back. But to get the head himself is even better.”
Perrin said the firm “is now confident it will become the world's undisputed leading international investigation firm”.
While it would not confirm it, Clifford Chance is understood to be advising Japanese bank Nomura on handling investigations by regulators and it is acting for many of the 24 pensions companies being pursued by the Personal Investment Authority (PIA) in order to put right alleged pensions mis-selling.
The firm's creation of a regulatory group came as the new Labour government announced last week its intention to transfer banking regulatory powers from the Bank of England to the Securities and Investments Board and to roll the three self-regulatory organisations – the, the Securities and Futures Authority and Imro – into the SIB.
See analysis, page 2.