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A major instruction: DLA Piper instructed by Vodafone for Spanish tax fraud investigation

DLA Piper lawyers from London and Madrid have been called in by Vodafone to investigate allegations of tax fraud at Spanish cable operator Ono, which the telecoms giant acquired in July for €7.2bn.

Corporate partner Juan Picon, who was made co-head of Europe and Asia on Tuesday this week, led on the original transaction and has been recalled by Vodafone over allegations that staff traded international call minutes off its balance sheet – through affiliate companies – without paying tax.

London-based global head of international arbitration Matthew Saunders and tax fraud specialist Jeremy Andrews have been parachuted in to assist, alongside a litigation and tax team based in Spain. DLA is also receiving support from Spanish criminal law boutique Oliva – Ayala.

Vodafone has blocked £50m in bonuses to former Ono executives, agreed once the takeover was completed in July, while the alleged fraud is investigated by Spanish authorities.

Picon told Legal Business: ‘Vodafone was formally notified of the investigation by the tax authorities. We are working off the back of a forensic analysis being carried out by Deloitte’s forensic team in the UK and Madrid.’

Weil, Gotshal & Manges led by London private equity partner, Marco Compagnoni, advised Ono’s owners on the sale to Vodafone. Local law advice came from Garrigues partner Renata Mendana.