Karen Coppens

Karen Coppens

Karen Coppens

National Partner

Paris | 32 rue de Monceau, Paris, France 75008
+33 1 57 57 80 57 | +33 1 57 57 80 81

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


Karen Coppens is a white collar crime and investigations lawyer who has been practicing for over a decade advising governments, multinational organizations (including boards and audit committees) and individuals under investigation by authorities including the Parquet National Financier, French investigating judges, the UK Serious Fraud Office and the UK National Crime Agency (and their international counterparts). She focuses on complex multi-agency and cross-border investigations involving international fraud, corruption and money laundering.

Ms. Coppens' work has a strong international focus, with a particular emphasis on Europe (particularly France and the UK), the Middle East, Africa and the United States. She has substantial experience of managing expectations and demands in complex multi-jurisdictional investigations, and working closely with other advisers. She has also advised senior executives who have been accused of, arrested or interviewed about various alleged crimes such as perverting the course of justice, fraud and corruption, money laundering, sanctions breaches and tax evasion.

An active member of the white collar community, Ms. Coppens has been formally recognized by numerous organizations and publications. In April 2020, she was listed in Global Investigations Review's “40 Under 40”, which profiles 40 leading young investigations specialists from around the world. In March 2020, she was (i) part of the team recognized by business intelligence organization C5 in its 2020 Women in Compliance Awards as the “Investigation Team of the Year.” The awards celebrate the significant achievements made by female compliance professionals all over the world that have made a difference and enhanced the compliance profession; and (ii) selected as an honoree in ALM’s Women, Influence and Power in Law Awards 2020 which celebrates the achievements of top women lawyers who have made a remarkable difference in the legal profession in the past year. She is also ranked by Décideurs for white collar crime in France (2020).  In June 2019, she was named a "Rising Star in Litigation" by Euromoney's European Women in Business Law Awards. In January 2019, she was shortlisted at the C5 Women in Compliance Awards for the “Mentor Award of the Year for Advancement of Women in Compliance” and the team she was a part of was also shortlisted in the “Fraud & Corruption Investigation Team of the Year.” 

The 2018 edition of GIR30 noted Ms. Coppens as a leading senior member of Dechert’s investigations team and she was included in Global Investigations Review's “Women in Investigations” profile, which highlights 100 remarkable women from around the world for their accomplishments in white collar crime law. She also received the Dechert Exceptional Teachers Award, which was awarded to 11 lawyers from more than 150 nominations, for volunteering countless hours to training and developing the firm's associates. 

Ms. Coppens has written extensively on Sapin II and French deferred prosecution agreements (conventions judicaires d’intérêt public), the UK Bribery Act 2010 and how to manage multi-jurisdictional investigations and dawn raids. In October 2020, Karen Coppens received a silver prize in the "international issues article" category at the “Plumes de l’Economie & du Droit 2020” ceremony for her article “Accord Airbus : un tournant décisif dans la coopération internationale en matière de lutte contre la corruption" (Airbus DPA : a decisive turning point in terms of international cooperation in anti-corruption enforcement) published in Le Monde du Droit on 5 May 2020. Karen Coppens has also delivered training on these topics to various corporates and has spoken on the subject at high-profile conferences in Paris and London. She also teaches a course on anti-corruption and compliance to LLM students (Master in Law & Business Ethics) at the University of Cergy-Pontoise.

Since September 2018, Ms. Coppens has spearheaded the efforts of the Dechert Global Women’s Initiative (GWI) in London in order to create an internal support network for women at all levels at the firm. This has involved organizing various events that enable lawyers and business service professionals to meet and interact with more experienced colleagues, providing training as well as tools to develop their skills. She has organized a number of speaking events in London to showcase female talent and devised a monthly training program for female professionals at the firm. The London GWI initiative saw Dechert named “Best International Firm for Talent Management” at the Euromoney Women in Business Law Awards in June 2019, as well as being awarded “Outstanding Firm for Furthering Diversity and Inclusion” at the Chambers European Diversity & Inclusion Awards in October 2019. In September 2019, she was included in the “50 Women Future Leaders” list which recognizes inspirational women who are making a significant contribution to gender diversity at work.

Prior to joining Dechert, Ms. Coppens was an associate in the corporate crime and investigations department of another global law firm. As a trainee, she completed a secondment at a leading French firm in Paris. She was also an intern in the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania.

  • Airbus SE in a global investigation into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption, and subsequent coordinated settlements with the UK Serious Fraud Office, French Parquet National Financier, U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of State.
  • The CEOs of a hedge fund and a bank being investigated for tax evasion, fraud, money laundering, sanctions breaches and forgery in various jurisdictions.
  • 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 Middle East to stand trial.
  • An individual accused of perverting the course of justice.
  • A company during raids carried out by the UK 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A Head of State of a European country being investigated of tax fraud further to a request for mutual legal assistance.
  • The CEO of a financial services firm who received a Section 2 notice from the UK Serious Fraud Office to produce documents.
  • A leading financial institution during an internal investigation further to allegations of fraud and bribery.
  • A mining company in Zambia about its legal remedies further to a decision by the Zambian Ministry of Mines to revoke its mining rights.
  • An employee of a major bank for LIBOR manipulation and prepared him for interviews in Switzerland, the United States and the UK.
  • 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.
  • An investment vehicle based in the Middle East on its anti-fraud and anti-bribery policies.
  • A major shipping company, including attendance and management of a raid of client premises by European Commission officials.

Pro Bono

  • Supporting an NGO to analyze sexual offence laws in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to advocate for legislative change for the LGBT community. 
  • Recipient of the Samuel Klein Pro Bono Award (March 2015). The award is given annually to recognize and honor those at Dechert who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to providing pro bono legal services.
  • Active member of the London Dechert Pro Bono Committee (2011-September 2019).
  • Active member of the London Dechert Global Women's Initiative (2013-present).
  • Volunteer at the Citizens' Advice Bureau (2007-2018).
  • Coordinated a team of six 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 in the British Legal Awards for 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).
  • Organized the London Dechert Legal Sponsored Walk team to raise funds for pro bono agencies in and around London (2011).
  • School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, LL.B, 2002
  • London School of Economics and Political Science, LL.M., 2003
  • BPP Law School, LPC, 2004
  • England and Wales
  • English
  • French
  • Dutch
  • Le Cercle de la Compliance
  • Institut du Risk et Compliance
  • Fraud Lawyers Association
  • Female Fraud Forum
  • Women in Compliance 
  • Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association
  • Women’s White Collar Defense Association
Speaking Engagements
  • Teaching four LLM courses to students from Cergy-Pontoise — France (February – April 2020).
  • The Geographic Significance in the Choice and use of Compliance Tools, conferences organised by the Journal of Regulation & Compliance at the Law & Political Sciences School of the University Nice Sophia Antipolis. Other speakers: Sciences Po Paris, the University of Oslo and the University of Nouakchott — Nice (February 4, 2020)
  • A Discussion Between Defense Lawyers on Multi-jurisdictional Investigations: How to Manage the Increase of Information Exchange Between Government Agencies and Minimize the Risk of "Follow-On," Anti-Corruption France Conference, C5 — Paris (October 22, 2019)
  • The Legal and Practical Challenges that Arise During Internal Investigations, Retreat of the Cercle de la Compliance — Paris (July 3-4, 2019)
  • The Landscape of Internal Investigations in France Following the Implementation of the Sapin II law, GIR Live — Paris (June 27, 2019)
  • From the Assessment of the Sapin II Law’s Anti-Corruption System to the First French Deferred Prosecution Agreement (CJIP), Anti-Corruption France Conference, C5 — Paris (October 16-17, 2018)
  • Navigating Issues in Multi-jurisdictional Corruption Investigations in an Aggressive US/UK/French Enforcement Landscape, Anti-Corruption France Conference, Round Table, C5 — Paris (October 16-17, 2018)
  • Key Considerations During Internal Investigations, Dechert Event (co-organized with the Female Fraud Forum) — London (October 4, 2018)
  • Managing a Corporate Investigation: Compliance Roundtable — Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland (June 5-6, 2018)
  • Is your organization ready to face a corruption or fraud allegation?, Dechert Event  — London (April 26, 2018)