Ms. Nicole Saqui is an Associate at Conrad & Scherer LLP at the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office. Ms. Saqui focuses her litigation practice on complex matters, fraud, asset recovery, financial disputes, and professional negligence cases.
Ms. Saqui is on the firm’s complex litigation team that has been leading the recovery efforts on behalf of victims of the infamous multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Scott Rothstein. Notably, the team achieved historic settlements returning investors what is said to be the highest percentages of recovery for victims of a Ponzi scheme. Many aspects of this case are still ongoing, and Ms. Saqui continues to assist in the litigation on behalf of these plaintiffs and other victims through state and federal bankruptcy courts.
Ms. Saqui has been involved with ACFCS since the start. She played a pivotal role in creating the examination that certifies financial crime specialists and is one of our charter members to be certified. Ms. Saqui is currently the founding Co-Chair of the South Florida Chapter of ACFCS.
1)Can you tell us about your role as a litigation attorney? What kind of cases do you specialize in?
As a litigation attorney, I focus my practice on complex commercial cases, financial frauds, asset recovery and professional negligence cases. The lion’s share of my practice involves representing victims of various financial crime to attempt to recover their losses by looking beyond the primary fraudster. Most recently, I was a member of my firm’s litigation team representing of a diverse group of plaintiffs seeking recovery of over $225 million in investor losses resulting from a billion dollar Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Scott W. Rothstein. This case focused on the role of certain banks, accountants, and other professional corporations and individuals in facilitating this criminal enterprise. The claims we brought against these “secondary actors” were based on fraud and included powerful secondary fraud liability claims, such as aiding and abetting fraud and civil conspiracy to defraud. Notably, our team achieved historic settlements returning our clients what is said to be one of the highest percentages of recovery for victims of a Ponzi scheme.
2)What is it like to work on behalf of victims of financial crime? Could you tell us the challenges of working a high profile fraud case like the lawsuit to recover the stolen assets from Scott Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme?
It is very rewarding to work on behalf of victims of financial crime and to be able to represent their interests in seeking the return of their losses. Of course, the stakes are extremely high in these types of cases. Just as in any large fraud case where there are numerous plaintiffs and defendants, the Rothstein case presented a unique set of challenges and complexities both legally and factually. In addition to our state court cases against Rothstein and his alleged conspirators/ accomplices, this case required interplay among several different forums as there were related bankruptcy proceedings and a related criminal action proceeding simultaneously.
3) What led you to become involved with ACFCS? How have you benefited from being part of this association?
I became involved in ACFCS to meet other professionals who are involved in the financial crime fields and to broaden my knowledge base. Since joining ACFCS, I have made great contacts in the field and have learned a tremendous amount about financial crime, regulatory compliance issues, enforcement, and so much more. As an attorney representing victims after fraud has been perpetrated, it has been very educational for me to learn of the different fraud and crime prevention tactics and of the different regulations and compliance protocols that are in place to prevent this type of crime from happening.
4) What is a high priority issue for you in this field and how can people learn more about it?
To me, a high priority issue in this field involves the punitive penalties that can and have been imposed against these “secondary actors.” Whether through a civil suit by plaintiffs pursing punitive damages or by way of regulatory sanctions, it will be particularly interesting to see the impact of these penalties on these complicit actors. As more and more of these complex financial crime schemes become uncovered, the public is becoming less and less tolerant of a “slap on the wrist” and will demand penalties that pack a punch—particularly when these secondary actors are in a position of power and trust such as financial institutions.