Freshfields turns to SFO for senior corporate crime hire

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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is boosting its corporate crime and global investigations practice with a senior hire from the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

Ben Morgan, who currently reports into SFO director David Green QC as joint head of bribery and corruption, will join the magic circle firm as a partner in its London headquarters.

Morgan, who joined the SFO in 2013 from Norton Rose Fulbright where he was a senior associate, has played an active role in a number of high profile matters during his time with the SFO, including investigations into Rolls-Royce and Airbus.

His hire will take Freshfields’ London corporate crime practice to five partners, working as part of a global team that already includes former prosecutors in the US, Asia and Germany.

Recent high profile mandates for the team include advising Tesco earlier this year as it reached an agreement with the SFO to pay a £129m fine to avoid prosecution for overstating its profits in 2014. The retailer also agreed with the Financial Conduct Authority to pay £85m in compensation to shareholders and bondholders who bought assets in the store between 29 August and 19 September 2014.

Freshfields has been advising Tesco on the case since 2014, with London dispute resolution partners Ali Sallaway and Ian Taylor leading the firm’s team on the deferred prosecution agreement. Sallaway is co-head of the firm’s London global investigations practice.

David Scott, Freshfields’ global head of disputes, said: “Ben is only the second lateral into our London team in all my years with the firm. We will hire laterally when we find an excellent opportunity that adds something very real to our practice and which we are confident makes our offering to our clients even more compelling. In Ben we have found someone who fits that bill.”

Morgan added: “It has been a privilege to serve at the SFO during such an interesting time of development in the criminal law.”

Earlier this year Freshfields hired a five-partner Paris private equity team from Ashurst, with the firm also signing up the UK’s former European commissioner for financial services as an adviser, after his post-Brexit resignation.