Following the recent arrival of partner Audrey Koh, Pillsbury’s London office managing partner Matthew Oresman said that Koh, who he described as a “powerhouse” in an extensive interview with Law360, is the firm’s ticket into London’s Corporate Investigations & White Collar Defense market.

“We’ve wanted to have white-collar in London for a long time,” Oresman said. “We’ve had a lot of opportunities to work on international cases but haven’t been able to service that from London. Adding Audrey is great.”

With London as an “epicenter” for top white-collar crime cases, Oresman added: “There’s still a belief that London’s got a great rule of law and a great system for settling disputes, so a lot of companies are based here, which gives the UK government a huge jurisdiction.”

As the war in Ukraine continues, Oresman noted that its repercussions have made things “incredibly complicated” for the firm’s UK-based clients, as many are facing sanctions regimes.

Koh said the sanctions issues have been “non-stop” for two years. As such, Koh said “[she has] sympathy for [Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation] because they were inundated. They have seriously ramped-up recruitment, but even that still isn’t able to cope with all the requests, investigations and challenges that private practice has been putting at their door.”

Meanwhile, with the recent changing of leadership in the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), Koh said the renewed vigor in the agency will likely lead to a rise in investigations.

“I have definitely noticed a marked change in terms of speed and approach. The new director appears to be a lot more aggressive and taking a lot of affirmative action,” Koh said. “He has reinvigorated the office.”

While the SFO currently has its focus set on policing cryptocurrency, Oresman believes the artificial intelligence industry has found itself first in line for regulatory attention as AI is sparking its own investigations.

As governments move to regulate companies that are developing AI platforms and selling them globally, Oresman said, “Governments now expect companies to have policies around who they sell to, and the criteria by which they judge customers, particularly on things that go to data or security.”

According to Oresman, if startups that lack regulatory understanding go to market without taking legal advice, the company may be asked about their compliance and source of funds, which may cause additional issues.

“Someone shows up with a check, they're ready to go, and they make a press release. All of a sudden, the regulators say, ‘Hold on, which country is this money coming from? What does your technology do?’” Oresman said. “Then they’ve got to call lawyers.”

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