Countering Bad-Faith Opponents' Efforts to Publicly Discredit High-Net-Worth Individuals

High-net-worth individuals are often targets of bad-faith opponents who use elaborate mechanisms to spread misinformation across borders in an effort to publicly discredit them. To stem the risks to reputation, HNWIs involved in contentious situations should take a robust and active approach to reputation management, with a mix of legal and communications interventions.

April 18, 2024

This is a summary of a Kobre & Kim article cowritten and originally published by the international strategic communications consultancy, DRD Partnership. Click here to read the full article.

Bad-faith opponents often use elaborate mechanisms to publicly discredit high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs). This activism can move at lightning speed across borders and result in reputational harm in many jurisdictions and across languages.

The proliferation of risks facing HNWIs involved in contentious situations necessitates a robust and active approach to reputation management. A carefully calibrated mix of legal and communications interventions must be quickly activated.

The Ripple Effect of False Allegations

False allegations can have a debilitating effect on clients and their families, as well as companies, charities, and individuals associated with them. A targeted HNWI may suddenly find themselves without access to banking facilities, facing difficult questions from commercial partners, or even being investigated by alarmed regulators.

Clients with multi-jurisdictional portfolios and footprints find it significantly more difficult to control how the truth is presented in the public domain during conflicts and disputes. Targets will likely end up playing “whack-a-mole” with publications around the world as their opponents seek to leverage local judicial systems and media to undermine the client’s case. Allegations in far-off jurisdictions can also catch the attention of foreign authorities, which can spiral into parallel investigations by multiple governments or even a sanctions designation case.

A Checklist of “Must Haves” for Managing Risk

The below “must haves” could help ensure that risk to the client’s personal and professional life is minimized amid the turbulence of multijurisdictional disputes:

  1. Establish a central strategic team to coordinate actions across jurisdictions.
  2. Effectively deploy specialist advisors to ensure professional handling with both lawyers and communications professionals.
  3. Introduce escalation protocols and lines of communication between the team and relevant decision-makers.
  4. Forecast scenarios two, three and four steps into the life cycle of ongoing disputes.
  5. Take a forensic approach to allegations that could be levied to ensure clients are prepared.

Click here for the full article for more details on the risks and how to mitigate them.

About Kobre & Kim

Kobre & Kim focuses on cross-border disputes and investigations, often involving serious allegations of fraud and misconduct. With offices in 15 countries and territories, we provide offensive and defensive cross-border litigation and crisis management strategies to UHNWIs with global business interests to preserve their assets, liberty, and reputation.

  • Our global team includes over a dozen former U.S. and UK government lawyers spread across EMEA, Latin America, Asia and the U.S.
  • Our industry-recognized experience in “[helping] businesses and successful individuals to understand and deal with the reputational and privacy issues that have the potential to put them in the spotlight,” according to Citywealth.
  • Our onshore and offshore lawyers – including an integrated group of U.S. litigators, offshore lawyers qualified in key jurisdictions, Hong Kong solicitors, and English barristers and solicitors – helping clients identify vulnerable assets and mitigate reputational harm caused by investigations.
  • Our ability to coordinate legal strategy and work closely with a range of stakeholders (including crisis communications and public relations firms) to formulate holistic strategies to preserve reputation and mitigate privacy concerns.
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