Karen Coppens

Karen Coppens

Karen Coppens


London | 160 Queen Victoria Street, London, UK EC4V 4QQ
+44 20 7184 7601 | +44 20 7184 7001

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Karen Coppens is a criminal defence and investigations lawyer who advises governments, multinational organisations, boards and audit committees on conducting internal and regulatory investigations and interacting with authorities/regulators such as the UK Serious Fraud Office, the UK National Crime Agency, the UK Financial Conduct Authority, the Parquet National Financier, French investigating judges, the European Commission, the UK Office of Fair Trading, the police and the UK Crown Prosecution Service (and their overseas equivalents).

In June 2019, Ms. Coppens was named as a "Rising Star in Litigation" by Euromoney’s European Women in Business Law Awards. In January 2019, Ms. Coppens was shortlisted by C5 for the Mentor Award of the Year for Advancement of Women in Compliance and the team she works with was also shorlisted by the C5 Women in Compliance Awards 2019 for the category ‘Fraud & Corruption Investigation Team of the Year’.  

Ms. Coppens was included in the 2018 editions of Global Investigations Review 30 which lists the top 30 firms in this area of law (“in London, the firm also boasts senior associate Karen Coppens”) and Global Investigations Review’s “Women in Investigations” profile that highlights 100 remarkable women from around the world for their accomplishments in this area of law. In February 2017, Ms. Coppens also received the Dechert Exceptional Teachers Award, which was awarded to 11 lawyers from more than 150 nominations and honours lawyers who have committed countless hours to training and developing the firm’s associates. Ms. Coppens was also recognised by Superlawyers UK as a “Rising Star” in 2014-2015 for fraud and criminal law. 

Ms. Coppens focuses her practice on the investigation and defence of multi-jurisdictional crimes such as bribery, corruption, money laundering and fraud. She has acted for various Governments and Heads of State and some of the world’s leading companies in sectors as diverse as the aeronautical industry, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, mining, construction, banking and finance.

Ms. Coppens also has practical experience of advising clients on how to manage raids carried out by the European Commission and the National Crime Agency on corporate premises.

Ms. Coppens’ work has a strong international focus, with particular emphasis on Africa, the Middle East, Europe (and in particular France and the UK) and the United States. She has provided training to listed companies about the UK Bribery Act 2010, dawn raids and the new French anti-corruption law Sapin II.

Ms. Coppens also has extensive experience of advising senior executives who have been accused of and/or arrested and/or interviewed about various alleged crimes such as perverting the course of justice, fraud and corruption, money laundering, sanctions breaches, and tax evasion.

Prior to joining Dechert, Ms. Coppens was a trainee and associate in the dispute resolution practice of Slaughter and May and an associate in the Corporate Crime and Investigations Department of DLA Piper. Ms. Coppens was also an intern in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. 

Ms. Coppens regularly publishes articles on bribery and corruption, and how to conduct investigations. She has delivered training on these topics to various corporates. 

Ms. Coppens is a member of “Le Cercle de la Compliance”, the Fraud Lawyers Association, the Female Fraud Forum and Women in Compliance. 

  • Advising the CEOs of a hedge fund and a bank investigated for tax evasion, fraud, money laundering, sanctions breaches and forgery in various jurisdictions.
  • Advised entities wholly or partly owned by a government further to allegations of fraud, corruption, money laundering and sanctions breaches further to investments made in various jurisdictions, and interacting with relevant national enforcement agencies. Led efforts to extradite a suspect from a European jurisdiction to the Midle East to stand trial.
  • Advised an individual accused of perverting the course of justice who will tried by a criminal court in 2016.
  • Advised a company during raids carried out by the National Crime Agency further to allegations of bribery and money laundering (including attendance and management of the raids at the client’s premises, and challenging the scope of the search warrants executed by the National Crime Agency).
  • Advised a FTSE 100 company during an internal investigation further to whistleblower allegations of bribery, corruption and sanctions breaches in various subsidiaries in Africa and Central Asia, and its self report to the UK Serious Fraud Office.
  • Acted for the Head of State of a West African government in a worldwide corruption investigation in Africa, the United States and Europe further to allegations of bribery and corruption when mining rights were granted.
  • Acted for a Head of State of a European country being investigated of tax fraud further to a request for mutual legal assistance.
  • Advised the CEO of a financial services firm who received a section 2 notice from the Serious Fraud Office to produce documents.
  • Advised a leading financial institution during an internal investigation further to allegations of fraud and bribery.
  • Advised a mining company in Zambia about its legal remedies further to a decision by the Zambian Ministry of Mines to revoke its mining rights. Represented an employee of a major bank for LIBOR manipulation and helped to prepare him for interviews in Switzerland, the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • Advised a French company operating in the extractive industry on its global anti-fraud and anti-bribery policies and delivered training to senior management on the UK Bribery Act 2010, the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 and the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.
  • Advised an investment vehicle based in the Middle East on its anti-fraud and anti-bribery policies.
  • Acting for a major shipping company, including attendance and management of a raid of client premises by European Commission officials.

Pro Bono

  • Recipient of the Samuel Klein Pro Bono Award (March 2015). The award is given annually to recognise and honour those at Dechert who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to providing pro bono legal services.
  • Active member of the London Dechert Pro-Bono Committee (2011-present).
  • Active member of the London Dechert Global Women’s Initiative (2013-present) and London liaison for women associates in the London office (2016-present).
  • Volunteer at the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (2007-present).
  • Co-ordinating a team of 6 on a project for the Society for Democratic Initiatives to advise them on how to strengthen anti-bribery and corruption laws in Sierra Leone.
  • Volunteered with the Advocates for Human Rights during two fact finding missions in the Balkans to assess how domestic violence laws are being implemented (October 2014-February 2015).
  • Worked on the Save Life Foundation Project in 2013 which was nominated for the Thomson Reuters Impact Award in October 2014.
  • Co-coordinated a project with Oxfam called Raising Her Voice and supervised a team of 37 lawyers who carried out a legal analysis on the state of implementation in Kenya of the Maputo Protocol (May 2013-July 2014). In October 2014, Dechert was commended by the Financial Times for this project in its Innovative Lawyers report. Dechert was also shortlisted as a finalist for the British Legal Awards Corporate Social Responsibility for this project.
  • Speaker and panel member at the Lagos Public Interest Partnership Stakeholders’ meeting in Nigeria in November 2012 to discuss different legal aid models. The meeting was attended by 100 prominent leaders from Government, private practice, academia and civil society.
  • Drafted a report on sex selection for the Center for Reproductive Rights based in New York, USA (2012).
  • Organised the London Dechert Legal Sponsored Walk team to raise funds for pro bono agencies in and around London (2011).
  • BPP Law School, LPC, 2004
  • London School of Economics and Political Science, LL.M., 2003
  • School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, LL.B, 2002
  • Solicitor, England and Wales
  • English
  • French
  • Dutch
Speaking Engagements
  • C5 Anti-Corruption France Conference — Paris (October 16-17, 2018)
  • Key Considerations During Internal Investigations — London (October 4, 2018)
  • Managing a Corporate Investigation: Compliance Roundtable — Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland (June 5-6, 2018)

    Speaker, Control Risks' Investigation workshop on the vital first steps of an investigation incident or crisis and cover how to respond, common pitfalls for businesses and typical expectations from the regulators.