John W Gibson

Partner, London

John W Gibson

Partner, London

John Gibson is a partner in the London office of Cohen & Gresser. He leads the firm’s United Kingdom white collar and investigations practice. John’s work focuses on complex economic crime, investigations, and regulatory matters. He draws on almost three decades of litigation and advisory experience, first as a trial lawyer in independent practice and then, for five years, as one of the most senior prosecutors and investigation managers in the Bribery & Corruption Unit of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

At the SFO, John gained extensive knowledge of the financial, energy, and extractive industries. He had oversight of some of the most complex work ever undertaken by the SFO, including one of the largest economic crime investigations in UK law enforcement history. John was a valued public speaker for the SFO and engaged in a range of policy initiatives and consultations concerning the investigation and prosecution of serious economic crime.

John has been recognized as a “Top Recommended” Criminal Lawyer in the Spear’s 500 2021 Legal Index. He is also recognized in The Legal 500 UK’s 2022 guide for Regulatory Investigations and Corporate Crime (Advice to Corporates), Fraud: White-Collar Crime (Advice to Individuals), and Commercial Litigation: Mid-Market. The Legal 500 commentary notes that he “has terrific experience in the most high-profile and difficult cases” and that he “is an excellent lawyer with the ability to turn that knowledge into practical advice. He is very focused on getting things done for his client.”

John offers rare insight into the focus of UK law enforcement and financial regulation, what matters when engaging with regulators and prosecutors, and how to properly deploy the correct litigation strategy to any given criminal or compliance issue. He has extensive experience with UK/US cooperation in economic crime investigations. He regularly works with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the United States. Additionally, John brings a thorough understanding of and experience with the white collar crime and regulatory environment in emerging markets, including the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries, Switzerland, and British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

John also has expertise in the management of big data investigations and litigation, the use of artificial intelligence (AI), legal privilege issues, internal investigations, self-reporting, cooperation with law enforcement, and leniency.

John practiced in Barrister’s Chambers in London, 36 Bedford Row (The 36 Group), from 1991 to 2014.

John is a graduate of the University College, Durham University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Law with Honors.

John Gibson is a partner in the London office of Cohen & Gresser. He leads the firm’s United Kingdom white collar and investigations practice.…


University College, Durham University (B.A., Law Hons 1990); Inns of Court School of Law, London (Bar Finals 1991)

Bar Admissions

England & Wales (Barrister)

Activities and Affiliations

Member, International Bar Association, White Collar Crime and Oil & Gas Committees

Member, Fraud Lawyers Association

International law firm Cohen & Gresser is pleased to announce that London-based partners John W Gibson and Richard Kovalevsky QC have been recognized in the 2023 edition of the Best Lawyers in the United Kingdom. The publication was recently featured in the Financial Times. John and Richard were both recognized as “Best Lawyers” for their work in matters relating to Fraud. Recognition in the guide is based entirely on peer review, “highlighting the most influential and effective players in the legal arena.”

International law firm Cohen & Gresser has been recognized by The Legal 500 UK for its “wide international reach” and “seamless collaboration” on cross-border investigations and disputes. Client commentary highlights C&G’s London office as “the go-to team for risk advisory” work and notes that clients should “instruct them before the other side does.”

C&G is recognized as a leading firm in the Regulatory Investigations and Corporate Crime (Advice to Corporates) category. The guide emphasizes the firm’s work with respect to the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and notes that the team is “distinguished by its ability to draw on the expertise of experts in Washington, DC, New York, and Paris” for its multi-jurisdictional work. Clients highlight the team’s “astonishing depth of knowledge,” “strong connections to authorities,” and “razor-sharp analytical skills.”

The Legal 500 also recognized C&G in the Fraud: White-Collar Crime (Advice to Individuals) category. The guide notes that the firm is known for “housing a very strong team of white-collar crime specialists” who are “well-versed in representing senior executives and high-net-worth individuals” in all types of cases and investigations. Clients highlight the practice’s “terrific experience in the most high-profile and difficult cases” and praise the diverse experience each team member brings to the firm’s cases, including as city lawyers, ex-SFO prosecutors, solicitors from crime boutiques, and barristers.

C&G is also recognized as a leading firm in the Commercial Litigation: Mid-Market category. The guide recognizes the firm’s experience in complex, cross-border commercial litigation and highlights the team’s strength in financial services representations, particularly with respect to investment funds litigation and banking and financial services disputes. Clients applaud the practice as “well organized and accessible” and underscore the team’s ability to “give you a full picture” and “summarise the essential of what needs to be known.

In addition, Richard Kovalevsky QC has been recognized as a “Leading Individual” for Regulatory Investigations and Corporate Crime (Advice to Corporates). Richard, who joined C&G in November 2020, is described by clients as “clever and experienced” and a “major addition for the firm.”

Ranked Practice Areas:

  • Regulatory Investigations and Corporate Crime (Advice to Corporates)
  • Fraud: White-Collar Crime (Advice to Individuals)
  • Commercial Litigation: Mid-Market
Recognized Individuals:

  • John Gibson: Commercial Litigation: Mid-Market; Fraud: White-Collar Crime (Advice to Individuals); Regulatory Investigations and Corporate Crime (Advice to Corporates)
  • Richard Kovalevsky QC: Commercial Litigation: Mid-Market; Fraud: White-Collar Crime (Advice to Individuals); Regulatory Investigations and Corporate Crime (Advice to Corporates)
  • Jumana Rahman: Commercial Litigation: Mid-Market
  • Thomas Shortland: Commercial Litigation: Mid-Market; Regulatory Investigations and Corporate Crime (Advice to Corporates)
  • Tim Harris: Fraud: White-Collar Crime (Advice to Individuals); Regulatory Investigations and Corporate Crime (Advice to Corporates)
About The Legal 500: The Legal 500 analyzes the capabilities of law firms across the world. Its rankings “highlight the practice area teams who are providing the most cutting edge and innovative advice to corporate counsel.”

Cohen & Gresser is pleased to announce that Spear’s Wealth Management has named Jeffrey M BronheimJohn W Gibson, and Richard Kovalevsky QC to its 2021 Legal Directory & Hommes d’Affaires index. The Spear’s legal index identifies the top legal counsel for private clients in the UK.

Jeff Bronheim is featured as a “Top Recommended” corporate lawyer in the 2021 index. Spear’s notes that Jeff is an “eminent and personable partner” and “comes highly recommended by a senior adviser in wealth management.” Jeff serves as the Managing Partner of Cohen & Gresser’s London office and has over 30 years of experience assisting funds, companies, high-net-worth individuals, and family offices with complex legal and business issues, including investments, regulatory considerations, disputes, and structural planning.

John Gibson is featured as a “Top Recommended” criminal lawyer in the 2021 index and is commended for his “expertise with UK/US cooperation in economic crime investigation.” John leads Cohen & Gresser’s UK White Collar and Investigations practice and is a former senior prosecutor at the UK’s Serious Fraud Office. He offers rare insight into the focus of UK law enforcement and financial regulation, when and how to engage with regulators and prosecutors, and how to develop and deploy the best litigation strategy for a wide range of criminal and compliance situations.

Richard Kovalevsky QC, featured consistently by Spear’s as a “Top Recommended” criminal lawyer, is once again included in the 2021 criminal lawyers and hommes d’affaires indices. Spear’s highlights “the wide range of cases that come across Kovalevsky’s desk” and notes that “his client base is similarly varied.” Richard is the head of Criminal Defense for the London office. He specializes in advising and representing high-net-worth individuals in connection with international and domestic issues and is known for his discreet tactical approach and expertise.

From Cohen & Gresser’s office in Mayfair, Jeff, John, Richard, and their UK colleagues work closely with attorneys in Cohen & Gresser’s U.S. and French offices on complex multi-jurisdictional matters and offer a multi-disciplinary practice tailored to the needs of ultra-high and high-net-worth individuals and family offices. Leveraging decades of experience, including at premier investment houses, the Bar, and the top-tier of elite global law firms, Cohen & Gresser delivers consistent, high-quality service across the types of matters our clients are likely to face, including fund investing and structure, strategic transactions, art law and restitution, privacy and data security, employment matters, tax issues, regulatory considerations, commercial disputes, reputation management, and, when necessary, defense against litigation, investigation, and prosecution.

In this Law360 profile, John W Gibson discusses his five-year stint as a senior prosecutor and investigations manager in the UK Serious Fraud Office’s bribery and corruption unit, how he uses that experience to understand what matters when engaging with regulators and prosecutors, and how to deploy effective litigation strategy in criminal or compliance matters. (Subscription required.)

John Gibson spoke with Financial News to discuss the Financial Conduct Authority’s recent warning that the agency is keeping a close eye on the use of unauthorised messaging apps in finance.

“The really critical thing for firms to do is to not ignore warning signs… [or] turn a blind eye to situations in which they [firms] know that private devices are being used for business purposes,” said John, adding that doing so represented “unquestionably [a] failing in your regulatory obligations.”

“The way in which people are working remotely and using chat applications, is storing up risk for both institutions, and for their potential supervision and enforcement of the rules,” added John. (Subscription required.)

John W Gibson speaks to Law360 about the recent memorandum of understanding announced by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the Competition and Markets Authority that shifts responsibility for the enforcement of the most serious and complex cartel offenses to the SFO.
Cohen & Gresser LLP advised private equity firm Limerston Capital in its acquisition of Forensis Group Limited and Forensic Axis Limited (trading respectively as Forensic Access and Axiom International), specialists in forensics science services and premier providers of international institutional reform and capacity building. The combined acquisition will form the basis of a new, comprehensive international criminal justice services provider. Management and founders, led by Professor Angela Gallop, will retain a significant minority shareholding as part of the transaction and will work with Limerston Capital to expand the businesses through organic growth and strategic acquisitions. The terms of the transactions were not disclosed.

John W Gibson speaks to Law360 about the light caseload and lack of charges coming out of the Serious Fraud Office. John notes that the current "cases are worthwhile, but they appear to lack the complexity or global scope of international bribery and corruption cases the SFO is designed to pursue." John also praises the Director of the SFO, Lisa Osofsky, for her "bold and impressive charging decision" regarding the recent investigation of GPT Special Project Management, Ltd. (a subsidiary of Airbus) and three individuals for alleged corruption offenses.

John Gibson is quoted in the Financial Times regarding the SFO’s new charges against two former Airbus executives and ex-British defense official relating to a £2bn UK government contract.
John W Gibson and Tim Harris spoke to Law360 about the implications of the Court of Appeal’s recent judgment that definitively changed the English law test for dishonesty. John and Tim highlight how the judgment could benefit prosecutors, disadvantage financial services professionals charged with dishonesty offenses, and how juries’ decisions could be affected.
John W Gibson spoke to Law360 about enforcement action and litigation over potential misconduct stemming from the UK’s COVID-19 lending programs. John notes that, while banks have been firmly warned of the possible Financial Services and Markets Act offenses, there could still be widespread abuse of the schemes.

John W Gibson is quoted in an article by The Daily Telegraph, which highlights the impact of the rare-earth metals industry on U.S. – China trade relations, noting “China has a ‘notional advantage’ in this area, by using relatively toothless regulation on African-based mining projects.”

John Gibson spoke with the Financial Times regarding the increasing number of suspicious activity reports (SARs) in the UK. He noted: “Consent SARs can be extremely complicated . . . and require days of rigorous analysis.”
Cohen & Gresser announces the expansion of its London office and White Collar Defense & Regulation group with the appointment of partner John W Gibson. A former UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) senior prosecutor, John will focus his practice on cross-border corporate investigations and white collar defense. He has over 25 years of experience as a barrister, and advises on all matters relating to law enforcement, regulatory and internal investigation of suspected crimes and regulatory breaches, as well as the defense of companies and individuals. In addition, John has expertise in data strategy and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in big data litigation and investigations.
Corruption allegations at multinational companies can often lead to several jurisdictions launching investigations that can drag on for years and cause significant damage to a company’s reputation and ability to conduct business. With different factors in each jurisdiction for what grants the authority to charge companies and individuals with criminal offenses, multinational companies need to work with advisers and create a strategy for timely global settlements at the outset of any global corruption allegations.

In this article for Financier Worldwide, John W Gibson identifies several strategic considerations for boards to consider when facing corruption allegations, including finding lawyers that can work in close partnership with forensic accountants, industry experts, data scientists, and corporate intelligence experts to piece together what has happened, an early review of the company’s compliance program and implementation of anti-bribery and corruption best practices, strategic evaluation of the jurisdictions in which to report, and why it’s essential at the beginning of an investigation to commence meaningful, straightforward dialogue with the key lawyers and investigators in each investigating jurisdiction.

This article first appeared in the February 2022 issue of Financier Worldwide Magazine.

John Gibson, Tim Harris, Thomas Shortland, and Tom Orange authored the England & Wales chapter of the International Comparative Legal Guide - Corporate Investigations 2022. In this Q&A-styled publication, the authors answer frequently asked questions about conducting corporate investigations in the UK, including key considerations for deciding whether to conduct an internal investigation, self-reporting and cooperation with enforcement authorities, the investigation process (such as the conduct of witness interviews and data collection), the limits of legal privilege and many other pressing topics.

The Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) issued a prohibition order against Mr Frensham based on his conviction for an offence which did not involve financial fraud or dishonesty and was unrelated to regulated activity. Following a referral, the Upper Tribunal considered such a prohibition for the first time in Frensham v The Financial Conduct Authority [2021] UKUT 0222 (TCC). Although the Tribunal concluded that the conviction alone was insufficient to make a prohibition order, the FCA’s decision was nonetheless upheld due to Mr Frensham’s failure to be open and transparent with the FCA during the course of the criminal investigation and later regulatory proceedings brought by the Chartered Insurance Institute (“CII”), which meant that he lacked integrity. In short, the Tribunal concluded that “it is not the fact that a criminal offence has been committed that is fatal to an applicant’s case but the manner in which he deals with the consequences that follow. In this case, we have found that the way Mr Frensham dealt with those consequences demonstrated a lack of integrity which entitles the Authority to exercise the prohibition power in order to further its statutory objectives”.

The Tribunal’s carefully reasoned judgment provides essential guidance both to the FCA and to firms assessing an individual’s fitness under the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (“SMCR”), and more generally under the Individual Conduct Rules (“COCON”), on how non-financial misconduct committed in an individual’s private life, where unrelated to their regulated activity, should be approached. This C&G Client Alert reviews the facts and the law, and analyses key lessons from the case.

With the shift to remote working and the convenience of chat applications for conducting business, it is critical for firms to understand that information relevant to their business may be created on personal devices and applications. The UK FCA’s failed prosecution of an investment banker for destroying WhatsApp messages taken together with the FCA’s ‘Market Watch 66’ publication highlighting the need to control electronic communications is a reminder to firms to address staff use of personal chat applications to conduct business.

In this C&G client alert, John W Gibson and Charlotte Ritchie outline the new UK Insolvency Practice Directions that are in place as a result of the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020.

In this C&G Client Alert, John W Gibson and Tim Harris discuss the Financial Conduct Authority’s (“FCA”) public censure of Redcentric PLC for market abuse and the likely implications for FCA enforcement in the context of the economic conditions created by COVID-19.

John W Gibson and Tim Harris discuss the Court of Appeal’s recent judgment in R v Barton & Booth, and consider some of the implications for those accused of complex fraud allegations by the alteration of the legal test for dishonesty.
John W Gibson and Tim Harris offer a practical, cross-border insight into UK anti-money laundering law in their chapter for International Comparative Legal Guides.

John W Gibson, Thomas Shortland, and Ashley Collins outline the key factors company directors must consider when making business decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic, as they may face scrutiny from a range of interested parties including creditors, employees, trade unions, landlords, customers, regulators, insolvency practitioners, and possibly law enforcement.

John W Gibson, Tim Harris, Barbara K Luse, and Charlotte Ritchie discuss the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Regulations 2019 (“the 2019 Regulations”) that recently came into force in the UK.  The 2019 Regulations extend anti-money laundering responsibilities to UK art market participants, including art dealers and other intermediaries, in response to the increasing recognition that high value art is used by criminals and terrorist groups to launder and hide money.

John W Gibson, Tim Harris, and Patrick Ferguson discuss the enforcement risks created by cum-ex transactions and the implications for jurisdictions, such as the UK, where cum-ex transactions per se have not been carried out, but where dividend arbitrage trades carry a risk of facilitating tax evasion, money laundering, or market abuse.

Miriam González Durántez and John W Gibson discuss the deal and no-deal implications for finance and sanctions following a “Brexit” in The Law Society Gazette.

John W Gibson and Miriam González Durántez discuss the parallels between the early enforcement of the Bribery Act 2010 and the UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation's first monetary penalty.

Jeffrey M Bronheim and John W Gibson discuss the implications of the Financial Conduct Authority’s decision to review hedge fund polling data use in their latest C&G Client Alert.

John was the keynote speaker at the 2018 Global Investigations Review Conference.

John spoke on the subject of legal privilege at The Cambridge International Economic Crime Symposium in 2016, 2017, and 2018 .