Regulatory/compliance: foreign firms in China
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP has a longstanding PRC presence, with a particular focus on companies that are present in both the US and China. The practice fields specialised lawyers with extensive experience in relation to fraud, white-collar crime, money laundering, The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and contentious regulatory investigations that have a Hong Kong or PRC nexus. A trusted adviser for several first-tier international and domestic financial institutions, Jane Jiang leads the PRC investigation and litigation team in Shanghai. The 2019 recruitment of both Eugene Chen in Hong Kong and Shanghai-based senior associate Yihan Zang from Hogan Lovells International LLP adds significant strength to the global investigations practice; and the firm's recently approved joint operation with Lang Yue Law Firm in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone means clients can now access integrated PRC and international legal services across several practice areas.
Other key lawyers:
‘The team benefits from bench strength (from junior associates to partners), and the local joint venture in the Free Trade Zone is also worth mentioning as the local partners are genuine local experts and have the local expertise to provide insight. Combined with A&O’s core strength in banking and finance (in the international market), the PRC offering is worth taking seriously.‘
‘Jane Jiang is highly assessable. Jane is upfront about what A&O can or cannot do. If something could be better done by a local firm, she would not hesitate to tell us. If another partner has better expertise in something, she does not hesitate to make a referral – we value that in an adviser.‘
Baker McKenzie FenXun
Baker McKenzie FenXun's China compliance and investigations team consistently assists with internal audits and investigations, regulatory advice, due diligence, monitoring, responses to inquiries from enforcement bodies, and remediation. The firm also provides value-added services, such as its Compliance Cockpit, a risk assessment and risk monitoring tool via an interactive dashboard; and its Global Dawn Raid app, which provides guidance when experiencing dawn raids in real time. A trusted adviser on compliance and anti-corruption issues, Simon Hui leads the dispute resolution team in Shanghai, which includes recently promoted partner Henry Chen, a cross-border compliance expert. Senior counsel Vivian Wu leads the PRC-admitted Beijing compliance and investigations team from the Chinese part of the joint operation, FenXun Partners, which also fields experienced partners Honghuan Liu and Xi Zhou. In Hong Kong, Mini vandePol heads the firm's Asia Pacific global compliance and investigations group, while Cynthia Tang leads the financial services regulatory and enforcement group.
- Acted for Volkswagen Group, as regulatory compliance counsel, on its proposed agreement to acquire a 26% stake in Shenzhen-listed Lithium-ion battery manufacturer, Guoxuan High-Tech.
- Acted for Volkswagen Group, as regulatory compliance counsel, on its proposed agreement to take a 50% stake in state-owned Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Holdings, and increase its holding in the JAC-Volkswagen joint venture.
- Regularly provides compliance training programmes to multinational companies and Chinese companies’ senior management and business teams, in relation to anti-bribery and corruption issues, as well as US trade sanctions and export control issues.
Clifford Chance LLP's cross-practice regulatory and compliance team covers a broad range of regulatory areas, such as financial regulatory, anti-money laundering, anti-corruption, sanctions, export control, data privacy and cybersecurity. A partner since 2019, Lei Shi, who works across the firm's Shanghai and Beijing offices, is head of the China anti-corruption, sanctions and regulatory investigation team. Shi has worked on some of the most significant China-related investigations, and has particular sector expertise in relation to financial institutions, private equity, TMT, consumer goods and healthcare. Particularly active in his communications with PRC regulators, Beijing counsel Kimi Liu is the firm's PRC regulatory expert, while Terry Yang supervises the PRC regulatory practice from Hong Kong. Yang regularly advises international, Chinese and other regional banks, fund managers and major corporations on the impact of global over-the-counter derivatives reforms and interbank lending rate transition, as well as the fast-developing PRC financial markets.
Other key lawyers:
‘Combines expertise in international documentation and transactions with PRC regulatory advice. The team is very responsive and able to work to very tight timelines.‘
‘Clifford Chance blends deep commercial understanding together with strong regulatory expertise. The team ensures that the client receives sound and practical advice.‘
‘The responsive Clifford Chance team works seamlessly across jurisdictions, from Tokyo and Hong Kong to mainland China. The team delivers outstanding service compared to its peers.‘
‘Terry Yang and counsel Kimi Liu are both very responsive, accessible and solutions-oriented – they also provide clear and actionable advice.‘
‘Terry Yang and his team have strong commercial sense and deliver quick turnarounds.‘
‘Terry Yang is the standout partner for his combination of in-depth knowledge of derivatives and business sense.‘
‘Counsel Kimi Liu is knowledgeable about China regulations, and always helpful and responsive.‘
- Advised a major European investment bank on the first-of-its-kind establishment of a joint venture virtual bank in mainland China.
- Advised a PRC FMI on its first cross-border regulatory survey, which canvassed a dozen jurisdictions on licensing requirements, marketing restrictions and financial markets regulation.
- Advised a US investment bank, as sole investor, on a securitisation deal under an asset-backed note programme of the National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors.
Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
The China regulatory and compliance practice at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP covers a breadth of areas, such as corporate crime, investigations, trade regulation, anti-money laundering and antitrust. Other key areas include cybersecurity, foreign investment regulation, data protection and privacy, marketing restrictions, sanctions, telecoms regulatory and food safety regulations. Beijing-based of counsel James Gong advises on a wide range of PRC regulatory issues, particularly in relation to the technology and telecoms sectors, and he is highly regarded for his cybersecurity and data protection expertise. In Hong Kong, cross-border criminal and regulatory specialist Kyle Wombolt is the global head of the corporate crime and investigations practice, and William Hallatt heads the firm's Asia financial services regulatory practice.
‘All their mandates involve high stakes and are of critical importance to their clients, and the HSF team interacts with regulatory authorities in more countries than any other firm.‘
‘Excellent practical experience, very strong technical knowledge, and always available and ready to help at short notice.‘
‘The HSF team has been a solid presence in the Hong Kong regulatory market (as well as other Asian markets) for a number of years. The most prominent lawyer on the team is Kyle Wombolt, who is one of the cornerstones of regulatory and enforcement work in Hong Kong and across Asia.‘
‘Kyle Wombolt is a huge presence in markets across Asia. He has a tremendous presence, strong leadership qualities and high levels of expertise. He is extremely skilled and experienced, with a long history of dealing with complex and sensitive investigation and enforcement matters, not just in Asia, but across the globe. Importantly, the regulators in Hong Kong and other Asian jurisdictions know and respect him.‘
‘Kyle Wombolt seems to have seen everything and knows everyone – he is in a league of his own. Lawyers work hard, but Kyle works even harder and puts his clients above everything else. He gives strong, clear advice, and delivers top quality work in the midst of often tense and stressful situations. Clients’ top management and general counsels look to him for direction as he brings a measure of calm to crises, and has the skill and ability to steer the ship out of stormy waters.‘
‘Kyle Wombolt is among the best in this field worldwide. Much greater practical experience and more hands-on approach than any others I’ve come across.‘
Kirkland & Ellis International LLP's Asia corporate investigations and anti-corruption practice is led by senior partners Tiana Zhang in Shanghai and Cori Lable in Hong Kong, who are both highly regarded for corporate investigations and anti-corruption work. They have extensive experience in handling highly sensitive, complex and cross-border government investigations, enforcement actions, civil litigation and related compliance advice. On behalf of several leading private equity, financial institutions and multinational corporations, the practice was recently particularly active in strategically important regulatory investigations and enforcement matters. Resident partner in the Shanghai office, Jodi Wu focuses on cross-border litigation, white-collar criminal defence, government enforcement, and internal investigations.
Kobre & Kim
Well known for its China and non-China litigation prowess, Kobre & Kim is highly active in regulatory and compliance matters. Clients particularly benefit from the firm's conflict-free, special counsel model, and the practice focuses on international disputes and cross-border investigations that frequently involve fraud and misconduct elements. A former US Department of Justice prosecutor, Wade Weems in Shanghai acts for corporations and individuals (with Asia ties) in cross-border criminal cases and internal investigations that stem from US government enforcement actions, particularly those alleging bribery or FCPA violations, theft, fraud and money laundering. Weems also advises on export control restrictions, and sanctions issued by the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and the US Department of Commerce. In 2020, the firm experienced the departure of former Shanghai office leader, Shaun Wu, for Paul Hastings LLP's Hong Kong office.
Other key lawyers:
Ropes & Gray LLP
Ropes & Gray LLP handles high-end corporate investigations and anti-corruption matters in several of China and Asia's highly regulated sectors, such as life sciences, private equity, financial services, real estate, technology and retail. In Hong Kong, Andrew Dale has played an important role in the development of the practice since joining the firm in 2015; and Geoffrey Atkins is another key partner in the firm's litigation and enforcement practice group.
Other key lawyers:
White & Case LLP's China regulatory and compliance team is experienced in advising on the prevention and resolution of regulatory and criminal enforcement matters, investigations, and associated civil claims. It is particularly well-positioned to conduct parallel investigation proceedings, in response to regulatory authority inquiries that involve cross-border contexts. Beijing-based practice head Bingna Guo has approximately two decades of experience in compliance and internal investigations in China and the US; she regularly advises clients on complex cross-border and domestic matters, including in relation to the FCPA, Chinese anti-bribery and anti-corruption laws, and the UK Bribery Act. Providing further mainland China support is senior associate Mark Chu (a 2020 hire from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP), who has corporate compliance and investigations experience.
‘They respond to clients’ questions very quickly and are highly professional; they are able to consider all issues and can give legal advice from the perspective of Chinese clients; the team’s own international background and the support of other teams in the firm are also very good.‘
‘White & Case knows the risk profiles and approaches of its clients extremely well, and it manages transactions in an efficient manner, providing excellent service and advice.‘
‘White & Case has the experience to guide its clients through many tough transactions, always looking at the bigger picture in conjunction with the current regulatory climate. We find the firm to provide a superior service and work product.‘
‘Bingna Guo has built a good reputation in the region and is a leader in the investigations and compliance space, especially for China. What impresses me the most is how she is able to lead a local team on the ground in a very efficient manner, both from quality and cost perspectives.‘
‘Bingna Guo has good people skills, interacting with the senior members of her clients on strategic matters, and is a hardworking partner who also focuses on doing actual work on the ground.‘
CMC Capital Partners
- Advised Leoni, the Germany-based global supplier of wires, cables and wiring systems, on a series of compliance matters.
- Advising CMC Capital Partners on conducting anti-corruption due diligence, in relation to a number of transactional deals.
- Advising the independent committee of the board of directors of Hebron Technology (Hebron) in an investigation, which relates to allegations of undisclosed party transactions between Hebron and its largest shareholder.
DLA Piper's investigations team serves both multinational corporations in relation to their Greater China-related compliance issues and investigations, and Chinese corporations that face concerns over their global operations outside Greater China; it also acts in response to inquiries from overseas regulators. A significant proportion of the practice's work covers traditional internal fraud and anti-bribery and anti-corruption investigations; in recent years, it has also experienced an increase in cybercrime and data breach-related reviews and investigations. Hong Kong's Sammy Fang heads the compliance and investigations practice across Greater China, while Nathan Bush leads the Asia investigations group from Singapore.
- Acted for a US-based software services company in an internal investigation into alleged channel-stuffing and fraud offences by a sales manager.
- Acted for an international consumer products company in an internal investigation into potential conflicts of interest and violations of company procurement and conduct policies.
- Advised a US life sciences company on pre-investment compliance due diligence and post-investment compliance remediation, which related to the acquisition of a controlling stake in a Chinese life sciences company.
Latham & Watkins LLP's Greater China team, anchored by Hui Xu (who heads the litigation and trial practice in Asia) in Shanghai and Beijing, and Catherine McBride in Hong Kong, regularly conducts internal investigations and risk assessments for clients throughout Asia; such work relates to the FCPA, Chinese commercial bribery laws, and other anti-bribery and anti-corruption regulations. The practice is increasingly active in relation to US and Chinese regulators' cross-border enforcement investigations, which target alleged corruption, cartel activity, and export controls and economic sanctions.
Other key lawyers:
Sinovac Biotech Ltd
China Orient Asset Management International Holdings
Nutanix Hong Kong Limited
China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited
China Life Insurance (Overseas) Company Limited
United Microelectronics Corporation
- Successfully protected Sinovac Biotech’s board of directors from the actions of dissident shareholders, including 1Globe Capital, a US medical biotechnology research organisation; the matter also involved an investigation by the US’ SEC.
- Acted for COAMI in connection with a complex and multifaceted dispute that concerned the development and financing of a satellite, which was designed to provide internet service to parts of Africa.
- Successfully represented a subsidiary of China COSCO Shipping, in its efforts to lift sanctions that were imposed by the US government against one of its oil tanker subsidiaries.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP's China team regularly assists with the development of compliance programmes; and on a global level, the practice acts before the DOJ and SEC in FCPA investigations, as well as before the Serious Fraud Office in UK Bribery Act and Prevention of Corruption Act inquiries. Also of note, the practice conducts investigations into alleged employee and third-party malfeasance. Focused on the financial services, technology, and life sciences sectors, Beijing-based Lesli Ligorner's corporate investigations practice is closely allied to her employment practice; and anti-corruption expert Todd Liao divides his time between the firm's Shanghai and Boston offices. Charles Mo is the Hong Kong partner to note.
Norton Rose Fulbright's China regulatory and compliance team fields specialists in China's complex regulatory regime, particularly in relation to sectors such as financial institutions, automotive, aviation, construction, retail and energy and natural resources, along with life sciences, real estate, TMT and transport. The practice also conducts internal investigations; provides compliance advice; and carries out anti-corruption due diligence and audits across the region, often in global co-ordination with the firm's colleagues in other offices. Shanghai head Sun Hong has over 20 years' experience in China-related regulatory matters; Lynn Yang focuses on the insurance and asset management sectors; and senior associate Ai Tong is a China financial regulations expert.
Other key lawyers:
‘The overall rating of the service is excellent, particularly the hands-on approach, competent work results and timely responses.‘
‘Sun Hong is a great professional with strong knowledge, and was able to respond to our special requests, despite Covid-19’s impact, in an efficient way.‘
‘Sun Hong and senior associate Ai Tong are both very professional and competent lawyers, who provide very highly appreciated assistance.‘
China Reinsurance Group China Property & Casualty Reinsurance Company Ltd.
China Southern Fund Management Company
HSBC Insurance (Asia) Ltd
Silicon Valley Bank
- Advised HSBC Insurance (Asia) on the regulatory aspects of its acquisition of a 50% equity interest in HSBC Life Insurance Company, its life insurance joint venture in China.
- Advised a US high-tech commercial bank on PRC regulatory requirements, which concerned remuneration plans for senior management staff, and the regulator regime applicable to IT set ups in China (among others).
- Advised a US property and casualty insurance company on an internal investigation, which involved issues of alleged corruption, employee self-enrichment, fabrication of company records, fake claims, and payment of bribes.
Paul Hastings LLP
Paul Hastings LLP’s China corporate investigations and anti-corruption practice was strengthened by both the 2020 arrival of Hong Kong and Shanghai-based partner Shaun Wu from Kobre & Kim, and the promotion of Shanghai's Sophie Han to partner in late 2019. The team provides compliance expertise to corporate clients, in relation to high-stakes government investigations, litigation and related matters; and its core capabilities include white-collar defence, anti-corruption and FCPA matters. The team particularly stands out for compliance reviews and investigations that involve multinational life sciences, technology and private equity clients.
‘Paul Hastings’ regulatory and compliance practice has always been well regarded in the Asia Pacific market. The firm has a very strong team that consists of seasoned legal professionals with specific industry experience, whether machinery manufacturing in China or the pan-Asia e-commerce industry. This combination of both legal expertise and first-hand industry experience makes Paul Hastings’ regulatory and compliance practice quite unique compared to other peers.‘
‘In addition to Shaun Wu’s extensive experience in regulatory and compliance work in China and the wider Asia Pacific region, Shaun has commercial sense. He can always relate to both the legal issues at hand, as well as the business challenges faced by the clients because of these legal issues.‘
‘Good breadth of experience in industries and topics, and the team seeks to find the right resources to support client matters.‘
‘The Paul Hastings team is large with a good balance of top, mid, and lower-level attorneys. The second thing that stands out is the maturity of the lawyers’ approach. They are much more systematic and standardised than other international firms I’ve worked with, which is the result of the team’s experience but also its scientific approach.‘
‘The legal solutions offered by Shaun Wu are always practical and consider the clients’ long-term business success in challenging geographic markets. Such quality is hard to come by and sets Shaun apart from his competitors.‘
‘Shaun Wu is a solid operator, with a good understanding of the China market and the various issues that clients face.‘
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, L.P. (KKR)
GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK)
- Acted for Airbus in, reportedly, the largest foreign anti-corruption settlement in history.
- Advised a Chinese integrated design and manufacturing technology conglomerate on compliance issues and the mitigation of potential risks.
- Acted for a multinational medical device corporation in internal investigations into its operations in China and Asia Pacific, which involved voluntary disclosure to the US Department of Justice of possible FCPA violations.
Shearman & Sterling LLP's team has substantial experience in relation to criminal bribery investigations, and is able to conduct China investigations entirely in Mandarin. Its investigation work in Asia covers a broad range of sectors, including medical devices, media and entertainment, retail, luxury goods, financial services, automotive and technology. Dividing his time between the firm's Shanghai and New York offices, Brian Burke is the founder and head of the firm’s Asia litigation and investigations practice; Burke is highly rated for his expertise in relation to China-related corporate investigations, anti-corruption and FCPA enforcement matters.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP's cross-border investigations practice in Asia fields US-qualified attorneys, who have substantial experience in litigation, investigations and compliance work. It particularly stands out for its experience in representing Chinese companies in response to US regulators’ inquiries and related investigations. Leading the team in Hong Kong, Steve Kwok is a Mandarin-speaking former US prosecutor, whose experience includes leading major internal investigations and diligence reviews, in relation to clients’ operations in China. Kwok has also overseen companies’ responses to DOJ/SEC inquiries, and advised on FCPA and other regulatory matters. The team is co-managed by Washington DC-based Bradley Klein.
In addition to FCPA-related matters, sanctions, and import and export control work, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP's Asia investigations team is experienced in relation to antitrust, fraud, World Bank issues and securities-related matters. Tatman Savio, who is based in Hong Kong, advises on anti-corruption, sanctions, and export and import controls. Beijing counsel Jingli Jiang provides key mainland China support.
‘The team responds quickly and clearly understands clients’ issues, provides correct legal advice, and has flexible meeting arrangements, which can be adjusted according to clients’ needs. In addition, online seminars are provided on regulatory and compliance information.‘
‘Akin Gump has very good geographical coverage of trade law practice in Asia. It has dozens of partners and counsels who are specialised in every aspect of trade worldwide, which makes the whole trade law team very strong and reliable.‘
‘Tatman Savio works very hard, drills down to details, and is an excellent manager of projects.‘
Ashurst's financial services practice handles regulatory issues, investigations and disputes. It is particularly noted for its reconciliation of local and European regulatory requirements, and is widely respected for its banking and financial services sector expertise. Beijing managing partner Patrick Phua is a PRC derivatives and regulatory specialist, while counsel Yolanda Liu advises on regulatory matters in Shanghai.
Other key lawyers:
CMS's Shanghai-based Philipp Senff is head of compliance in China; Senff assists with compliance audits, risk assessments, internal investigations, whistle-blower management, corporate governance, and the implementation of compliance management systems. His sector experience includes automotive, manufacturing, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, real estate, transportation and retail.
Hogan Lovells International LLP fields specialists in multinational bribery and corruption laws, who assist with the management of regulatory risks and cross-jurisdictional corporate investigations. Office managing partner Roy Zou is the key Beijing contact, while corporate investigations specialist Phoebe Yan is a counsel at Hogan Lovells Fidelity, the firm's formal Shanghai association. Former team leader Eugene Chen left the firm's Shanghai office to join Allen & Overy in Hong Kong.
Other key lawyers:
Roy Zou; Phoebe Yan
Linklaters fields contentious and non-contentious financial regulation specialists, who provide full-service advice on financial regulatory-related investigations and raids, enforcement actions, regulatory sanctions, and anti-money laundering legislation. Melvin Sng, who splits his time between Hong Kong and Singapore, heads the firm’s dispute resolution practice in Asia, while Sumit Indwar leads the Asia financial regulation practice from Hong Kong.
‘The Linklaters team has very capable junior partners, who make the cost efficiency of engaging them very high. Compared to other firms, even their more junior partners are capable of handling complicated matters.‘
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing
Standard Chartered Bank
- Advised Jardines on the formation of a virtual bank joint venture with BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) and JD Digits, which included regulatory advice.
- Advised China’s Ping An on the acquisition of a 15.2% stake in China Jinmao Holdings Group, which included regulatory advice.
Headed by Hong Kong managing partner Timothy Blakely, Morrison & Foerster LLP's full-service China corporate investigations and anti-corruption practice is particularly focused on government investigations and prosecutions, internal investigations, and FCPA due diligence and advisory work. Blakely has represented multinational and Chinese clients in various industries, including telecoms, biotechnology, publishing, pharmaceuticals, and financial services.
Reed Smith Richards Butler
Reed Smith Richards Butler leverages its presence in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and across the Asia-Pacific region, in relation to complex, large-scale corporate investigations that involve FCPA and UK Bribery Act issues, as well as Chinese and other European anti-bribery and anti-corruption acts. Shanghai and New York-based corporate investigations partner Dora Wang joined in 2019 from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP.
Other key lawyers: