Nicholas Bortman

With a focus on the Middle East, Nicholas has acted in many of the region’s most significant litigation and arbitration proceedings of the last decade. He has particular experience in corruption investigations, evidence gathering in jurisdictions with minimal disclosure requirements and supporting the enforcement of judgements and arbitral awards. He is top ranked by Chambers in its 2019 litigation support guide.

Prior to co-founding Raedas, Nicholas was partner and co-chair of the dispute consulting group of GPW. He established the firm’s office in the UAE, spending six years in the Middle East developing its regional practice and working to integrate investigations into litigation strategy in matters heard before local courts and tribunals.

Nicholas’ experience includes Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers v Maan Al Sanea & Ors (aka AHAB v Saad) and a range of private and public clashes among merchant families and royalty heard in the DIFC courts, UAE courts and arbitration centres and London High Court.  In 2016 Nicholas was asked to consult for the International Criminal Court of The Hague, evaluating the Court’s financial investigation practices and advising the Office of the Prosecutor on asset recovery in Africa. He serves on the expert roster Justice Rapid Response, an intergovernmental facility for the global deployment of criminal justice professionals trained to investigate genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and serious human rights violations. He is also a member of the UN Security Council Affairs Division’s roster of experts.

Nicholas was trained by a former Manhattan District Attorney’s Office trial prosecutor, providing investigative and analytical support in tobacco and pharmaceutical counterfeiting and smuggling investigations. He was educated at Reed College, New York University and the London School of Economics.

White collar crime
Led all external aspects of a multi-year investigation by one of America’s largest industrial corporations into allegations of corruption in connection with supply contracts in the Arabian Gulf. Delivered information and evidence, identified, recruited and interviewed witnesses, escorted US based counsel on fact finding visits to Middle Eastern and Asian countries and assisted in preparing briefs to be submitted to the US Department of Justice.
Acted for US counsel on behalf of a US defence manufacturer to investigate a whistle-blower’s allegations of corruptly obtained contracts from a Middle Eastern government. Successfully arranged and participated with counsel in witness interviews in the region and obtained credible – and exculpatory – evidence.
Asset tracing
Acted for US counsel on behalf of creditors of Maan al Sanea and Saad Group to establish first movers’ advantage in securing preliminary attachment orders as news of the US$126 billion fraud broke in 2010.
Acted for UK counsel on behalf of a GCC sovereign fund to investigate the loss of a US$200 million direct investment in India. The mandate included a large scale digital forensic exercise at several remote sites and global asset tracing and recovery.
Acted for UK counsel on behalf of a Middle Eastern air carrier to trace the assets of a debtor and provided evidence in support of applications for preliminary attachment orders.
Developed a bespoke debt recovery programme for a global bank in respect of a non-performing SME portfolio. The programme incorporated a series of investigative phases to shortlist viable debtors (while providing an informed basis on which to write-off others), identify unencumbered assets and deliver evidence to legal counsel.
Acted for US counsel on behalf of a Scandinavian investment bank to pursue the US$20+ million-dollar debt of a disgraced businessman. Located the businessman hiding in an offshore jurisdiction (aided by indiscreet geotags on a family pet’s Instagram feed) and identified the subject’s activities and recent investments in country.
Acted for a UAE sovereign entity in multiple recovery actions against former investment partners and other debtors.
Litigation and arbitration support
Acted for counsel in arbitration pertaining to the circumstances of a high-profile hull loss of a commercial aircraft. Delivered new non-public and unreported information, evidence and witness testimony to support the client’s narrative of events.
Acted for US counsel representing the subject of a US Federal criminal prosecution in New York to gather evidence in his defence. The role focused principally on identifying, contacting and securing cooperation from witnesses in the Arabian Gulf and Levant in anticipation of deposition.
Investigation on behalf of a major Icelandic bank into former executives charged with fraud, delivering detailed profiles of their global commercial and asset portfolios with supporting evidential exhibits.
Internal investigation
Acted for US counsel to support an internal investigation into the Middle East offices of a European industrial manufacturer in response to a detailed whistle-blower letter. Work included extensive tracking of potential witnesses across the United Arab Emirates and India.
Acted for UAE-based counsel to investigate a multimillion-dollar embezzlement scheme by the general manager of a high-profile family office.
Acted for counsel on behalf of a global consulting firm into the detention of its local government counterpart on corruption charges in a GCC country. The government had sought, without explanation, to interview the firm’s senior country managers, raising fears of charges against firm personnel and a material risk to high-value contracts. Delivered information concerning the case against the detained individual and an assessment of the standing of firm personnel and the intentions of the government.
Other contentious situations
Led an investigation for one of America’s largest defence manufacturers to identify the agitator(s) behind a black public relations campaign targeting a high-value product in which the manufacturer had invested.