Compliance and investigations in Latin America: International firms

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP has landed some of the biggest investigations engagements in Latin America, including numerous matters linked to Operation Lava Jato in Brazil. Moreover, the firm is routinely instructed by multinationals on anti-corruption settlements involving Latin America and has a buoyant practice in anti-corruption and anti-bribery due diligence in M&A and joint ventures, compliance programmes and risk assessments. Although widely recognised for its experience in Brazil, the Latin America team is active throughout the region. Andrew Levine is a recognised market leader in Latin America white-collar crime and investigations, representing clients caught up in many of the headline scandals in the region. Bruce Yannett is chair of the white-collar and regulatory defence practice, and has in depth experience of Latin America matters, especially Brazil. Kara Brockmeyer is former chief of the SEC enforcement division’s FCPA unit, and is also a key player in representing multinationals and individuals involved in Latin America anti-corruption programmes. David O’Neil is also frequently engaged in Latin America investigations, acting for both individuals and corporates. Brazil and New York licensed Daniel Aun is a highly rated associate, particularly for Brazil investigations.

Practice head(s):

Bruce Yannett

Testimonials

‘The Debevoise team is not only excellent from a technical point of view, but also very dedicated and interested in the clients’ needs and views.’

‘Debevoise is among the pioneers to practice compliance in Brazil. They are involved in some of the most high-profile cases in Brazil and are very knowlegeable about the practice and legal aspects in Brazil.’

‘Andrew Levine is an amazing lawyer. He brings credibility to any discussion about compliance/anti-corruption. He has worked in many high-profile cases in Latin America and Brazil.’

‘Andrew Levine is a key contact and one of the most active investigations and FPCA lawyers in LatAm.’ 

‘Andrew Levine is always personally involved in all matters handled by his team. This makes an important difference by showing the partners’ involvement and engagement in all matters. Andrew has an impressive network in Latin America. I believe he is the US lawyer that knows the Latin America compliance and investigation market the best.

‘The associate Daniel Aun has a lot of potential. Being a Brazilian working in the US for many years, he can quickly assess the case from both the US and Brazilian perspective in a very efficient way.’

‘Daniel Aun is a key future leader, having trained and studied in Brazil, which brings unique insights.’

Key clients

Marcelo Odebrecht and Emilio Odebrecht

Keppel Corporation

Rolls-Royce

Work highlights

  • Advised the owners of the largest construction company in South America in response to the US criminal investigation of bribery related to the Lava Jato scandal in Brazil.
  • Advised Keppel Offshore & Marine on an internal investigation and coordinated resolutions with the US, Brazilian and Singaporean criminal authorities in relation to corrupt payments to Petrobras and other Brazilian officials.
  • Represented Rolls-Royce in an internal investigation and coordinated resolutions with UK, US and Brazilian investigating authorities, relating to bribery and corruption involving intermediaries in a number of overseas markets.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is a global leader in FCPA and anti-corruption matters. It is one of few international firms to truly leverage its Sao Paulo presence in this field, backed by a large group of Latin America white-collar and investigations specialists in various US offices. Much of its work centres on Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Brazil, but covers the whole Latin America region. It represents a multitude of Fortune 500 and other companies in Latin America investigations. Amongst a series of headline mandates, it previously represented Petróleo Brasileiro (Petrobras) in the FCPA investigation into the Operation Lava Jato bribery scandal in Brazil. Joseph Warin is co-chair of the white-collar defence and investigations practice and is widely heralded for his experience in FCPA investigations. Los Angeles partner Michael Farhang is a former federal prosecutor and specialises in Latin America investigations and FCPA advice relating to M&A transactions.

Practice head(s):

Joseph Warin; Joel Cohen; Charles Stevens

Key clients

Crystallex International Corporation

Kaleil Isaza Tuzman

Petróleo Brasileiro (Petrobras)

Chevron Corporation

Work highlights

Miller & Chevalier Chartered

Miller & Chevalier Chartered's longstanding commitment to white-collar crime, investigations and compliance in Latin America continues to land it many of the biggest engagements in the region, notably in anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and economic sanctions. Having been at the forefront of representing clients in Brazil-related corruption investigations, it has led the market in Venezuela, Mexico, Chile, Colombia and other key Latin America jurisdictions. The Washington DC firm has a sizeable team of white-collar investigations specialists, many of which are focused, at least in part, on Latin America. Matteson Ellis leads the Latin America practice, is a Spanish and Portuguese speaker, and is noted for his understanding of FCPA in Latin America, his sanctions knowledge and his advice to governments on compliance programmes. Alejandra Montenegro Almonte is a former Latin America-based in-house counsel and has extensive experience in anti-corruption procedures for corporates. William Barry is an expert in governance and board issues, while James Tillen is recognised for his anti-money laundering experience. Chair of the firm Kathryn Cameron Atkinson is also rated by clients. Counsel Gregory Bates and highly rated senior associate Leah Moushey are also key team members.

Practice head(s):

James Tillen

Testimonials

‘Miller Chevalier might be considered a small firm by US standards, but they have, in my opinion, the most qualified and prepared team to deal with compliance and investigations. I have already worked with plenty of US law firms in FCPA-related matters and Miller is, by far, the one who delivers the most. One other thing that really differentiates them from competitors is their capabilities to render services in Latin America. They have several professionals, not just fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, but also used to the culture of each of the countries.’

‘They are my number one firm when I have to refer a US law firm to any of our clients.’

‘James Tillen is an oracle when it comes to FCPA knowledge. In addition to that, he is extremely experienced, objective and knows where the problems are. He really knows how to navigate an internal investigation without boiling the ocean and incurring unnecessary costs. In addition to that, he has great negotiation skills that are extremely useful when a company seeks a DoJ/SEC resolution.’

‘Matt Ellis is a legend when it comes to Latin America FCPA related cases in Latin America. The very best a company can find if an investigation is needed in the region.’

‘Will Barry is very experienced when it comes to large problems involving Brazilian companies and their boards. He does a fantastic job.’

‘Leah Moushey – an associate that delivers as a partner. She speaks fantastic Portuguese, is extremely responsible and the work she performs is outrageously good.’

‘Kathryn Cameron Atkinson – a natural born leader.’

Key clients

Daisy Rafoi

Work highlights

  • Advised on the indictment of Daisy Rafoi, a Swiss National and private wealth advisor who was arrested in Italy on an international arrest warrant issued by the US relating to corruption and money laundering issues in Venezuela.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton's Latin America compliance, investigations and anti-corruption work followed key market dynamics in 2020 with notable growth in due diligence relating to government fundings, procurement and the wider Covid risk. The group, which benefits from the firm's leading wider Latin America practice, has intensified its focus on ESG and CSR issues, and portfolio risks for financial investors and fund managers, particularly in the anti-bribery and corruption segment. The mining and extractive industries have been a core emphasis for the team over the years, while energy is a growth sector. Lisa Vicens has a primary focus on Latin America and is highly rated by the wider market. Jonathan Kolodner has a significant emphasis on Latin America work as part of his wider practice, while Breon Peace is a key name for internal investigations for Latin America-based clients or international businesses with operations in the region. All are based in New York.

Practice head(s):

Breon Peace; Jonathan Kolodner; Lisa Vicens

Key clients

Vale

GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes

HSBC

Citigroup

BNDES

Petróleo Brasileiro (Petrobras)

Work highlights

  • Advised Vale on an SEC investigation into securities disclosures related to the company’s dam safety in the wake of the 2019 Brumadinho dam collapse in Brazil.
  • Advised Brazil’s largest discount airline, in connection with investigations by Brazilian and US authorities of alleged bribe payments to senior Brazilian officials arising out of Brazil’s Lavo Jato anti-bribery scandal.
  • Advised Brazil’s national development bank, BNDES, on an internal investigation of allegations of corruption in connection with a major Brazilian bribery investigation.

Covington & Burling LLP

Covington & Burling LLP has a substantial anti-corruption and white-collar defence practice in the US, which has a considerable focus on Latin America. A large number within the team are former senior federal criminal enforcement officials. Clients include an array of multinationals and multilatinas and the Latin America-focused group has widespread geographic coverage including Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and Argentina. Lanny Breuer is a leading name in white-collar defence and anti-corruption matters, and has represented multinationals in a series of investigations in Brazil, Colombia and other Latin American states. Donald Ridings chairs the global anti-corruption group and is also experienced in Latin America cases. Of counsel Veronica Yepez leads the Latin America investigations practice and has extensive experience in alleged FCPA violations and anti-corruption compliance matters.

Practice head(s):

Nancy Kestenbaum; Steven Fagell; Mythili Raman; Donald Ridings; Jennifer Saperstein; Dan Shallman

Key clients

Alexion

Anheuser-Busch InBev

Uber Technologies

Mobile Telesystems

Goldman Sachs

Kimberly-Clark

F Hoffmann-La Roche

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings

Work highlights

  • Represented Alexion Pharmaceuticals in a five-year investigation for FCPA violations in countries including Brazil and Colombia.
  • Undertook anti-corruption due diligence for a multinational pharmaceutical company in connection with a $3bn acquisition of another pharmaceutical company, conducting risk assessments in Brazil and South Korea.
  • Represented a Brazilian company under investigation by the World Bank Group Sanctions System involving allegations that it engaged in prohibited practices in connection with World Bank-funded projects.

Jones Day

Jones Day has committed extensive resources to its Latin America investigations and white-collar defence practice. Its substantial team across the US, frequently represents US and Europe-based multinationals in investigations linked to their Latin America operations. With key partners in its Miami, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Mexico City and other offices, it has extensive coverage of the Latin America region. It remains active in Venezuela's oil and gas sector, and has experienced an upswing in investigations linked to Argentina and Peru. In Mexico City, where it has a substantial team, the firm has worked on a series of engagements relating to cancelled contracts. Eric Snyder has an impressive background as a public prosecutor and previously had a lengthy spell in Sao Paulo; he maintains strong connections to Latin America, is a regular adviser in FCPA investigations and has represented parties involved in the Lava Jato investigation in Brazil. Dallas partner Emmanuel Ubiñas is also singled out as a prominent name in Latin America investigations, as is fellow Dallas partner Arielle Tobin who stands out for her experience in financial reporting and accounting fraud investigations. Cristina Pérez Soto is another key figure in Miami. Los Angeles partner David DiMeglio is also noted for internal investigations in Latin America.

Practice head(s):

Theodore Chung; Eric Snyder; Emmanuel Ubiñas; Cristina Pérez Soto

Key clients

Toyota Financial Services México

Grupo Proeza

Corporación Moctezuma

Bunge Servicios

ExxonMobil México

Casa de Bolsa Finamex

Altán Redes

BioHorizons (Henry Schein)

Daikin Airconditioning Mexico

Work highlights

  • Represented Marcos Eduardo Elias before the SDNY Federal Court, obtaining a 15-month reduction in his sentence.
  • Assisted ExxonMobil Mexico with privacy-related obligations, including data protection obligations in 25 jurisdictions in Latin America. Provided advice regarding its consumer relations and personal data transfers across the region.
  • Advised BioHorizons on assessing compliance risks in Latin America including preparing anti-corruption training in connection with the FCPA and local anti-corruption laws for its operations in Mexico and Chile.

White & Case LLP

White & Case LLP's strong presence in Miami, including an established white-collar practice, provides it with deep cultural and language connections to Latin America. Michael Garcia has an extensive record in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, with impressive experience in FCPA violations and accounting fraud; he previously passed the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, giving him additional knowledge of accounting and auditing practices. The firm's strong commitment to the region is evidenced by sizeable offices in Sao Paulo and Mexico City, along with a well-developed US-based Latin America team, including additional investigations and white-collar experts in Washington DC and New York. Maria Beguiristain is noted for investigations and white-collar cases involving Ecuadorian and Central America entities. New York partner Virginia Chavez Romano and Mexico City's Enrique Espejel are also key members of the team.

Practice head(s):

Scott Hershman

Key clients

JBS

Work highlights

  • Advised JBS, the Brazilian protein company, on the implementation of a global compliance programme, relating to a leniency agreement executed by JBS’s parent company following a high profile corruption investigation involving the former president of Brazil.

Diaz Reus International Law Firm & Alliance

Diaz Reus International Law Firm & Alliance has a fine reputation for representing public officials and other individuals in regulatory investigations and white-collar cases, alongside its experience in OFAC sanctions. While much of the firm's Latin America practice has centred on Venezuela over the years, it has built a much stronger record across Latin America, including Nicaragua and other Central American states. Global managing partner Michael Diaz leads many of the firm's key cases, with support from Robert Targ, another experienced figure in white-collar crime cases, including FCPA charges, OFAC sanctions, money laundering cases and bank fraud. Marta Colomar-Garcia is noted for anti-money laundering expertise.

Practice head(s):

Michael Diaz; Robert Targ

Key clients

Amir Nassar

Hector Nuñez

Edoardo Orsoni

Rafael Cedeno

Chris Barkovic

Peter Karam

Jespa and Romeo Mouawad

Eduardo Iglesias

Gustavo Orsoni

Fabio Tordin

Work highlights

  • Represented Amir Nassar, a Venezuelan attorney representing Alex Saab, an alleged associate of President Maduro and his wife, the First Lady of Venezuela, in a billion-dollar money laundering investigation.
  • Represented a former PDVSA official and oil trade manager in an active FCPA investigation by the Eastern District of New York and the US Department of Justice.
  • Represented Edoardo Orsoni, former general counsel of CITGO Petroleum in Houston and Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), who has pled guilty to violations of FCPA laws for his participation in a kickback and money laundering scheme.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP has an extensive record in Latin America white-collar cases and corruption investigations, landing key roles in a series of headline and long-running cases. These include white-collar cases, FCPA investigations and OFAC investigations in a number of major Latin America economies including Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela and several Central American states. Juan Morillo is co-chair of the white-collar and investigations practice in Washington DC and is a genuine Latin America specialist. William Burck is co-chair of the investigations, government enforcement and white-collar criminal defence practice and has also represented key parties in a number of headline investigations in Latin America.

Ropes & Gray LLP

Ropes & Gray LLP's anti-corruption and international risk group is in large part responsible for the solid platform and growth of its Latin America practice. The team is frequently engaged in investigations of alleged FCPA violations and multi-jurisdictional compliance programmes. It is also experienced in anti-corruption due diligence relating to M&A transactions in the region. The firm and the Latin America team are widely recognised for their expertise in pharmaceutical, life sciences, asset management and financial services, amongst many other sectors. Chicago partner Nicholas Berg co-chairs the Latin America team and has deep experience in FCPA and other anti-corruption investigations. María González Calvet co-chairs the Latin America group and is another leader in FCPA, anti-corruption risk and enforcement in Latin America. Chicago partner Ryan Rohlfsen is another extremely active specialist in the Latin America region, while Colleen Conry, Alexandre Rene and Boston's James Dowden are also key team members.

Practice head(s):

Nicholas Berg; María González Calvet; Matthew Posthuma

Key clients

Embraer (retained Alexandre Rene as an independent monitor)

Vinson & Elkins LLP

Vinson & Elkins LLP has a fast growing government investigations and white-collar criminal defence practice in Latin America, with much of it centring on the technology and financial services sectors. The firm has an extensive record in compliance programmes and regulatory investigations. New York partner Palmina Fava is at the forefront of compliance programmes, FCPA and anti-corruption investigations across Latin America. San Francisco partner and former federal prosecutor Matthew Jacobs is a key player in cross-border investigations, including those involving Latin America. Washington DC's Ephraim Wernick is a former supervisor from the Department of Justice's (DOJ) criminal fraud section and FCPA unit, and is also active in Latin America investigations and anti-corruption due diligence exercises for potential M&A transactions.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Jacobs; Michael Dry; Palmina Fava; Ephraim Wernick

Work highlights

  • Advised the client and its diverse portfolio of companies on legal and compliance issues related to the FCPA and other global anti-corruption laws.
  • Represented the client in preparing and conducting FCPA compliance training, performing FCPA risk assessments, reviewing and revising compliance policies, conducting FCPA due diligence on third parties, and advising on FCPA investigations.
  • Represented the client, which operates globally including in Latin America, in conducting an FCPA risk assessment of its global business and in related investigations based on the findings of the risk assessment.

Greenberg Traurig LLP

Greenberg Traurig LLP's white-collar defence and special investigations practice features a number of former prosecutors and has increasingly strong connections to Latin America. The firm frequently represents individuals, executives, government officials and family offices involved in anti-corruption investigations. Washington DC partner Daniel Pulecio-Boek is the key figure in this regard, with deep experience of the Latin America region, and he consistently wins praise from clients.

Practice head(s):

Nathan Muyskens; Barry Vitou

Testimonials

‘The level of knowledge of the partners and the way they represent us before third parties and counterparts makes them unique and exceptional. I have worked with other firms in the past and we have never had the results and excellent communication that we have today with this firm.’

‘Despite the pandemic and the impossibility of having face-to-face meetings, Greenberg’s team facilitated communication channels in such a way that everything flowed remotely. The level of response from this firm is immediate and always with options.’

‘The Greenberg Traurig team is excellent from every point of view. Their lawyers are very competent and specialised, they inform the client of all the possibilities of the case and provide an efficient service. They speak the same language.’

‘Greenberg Traurig’s compliance practice stands out for its proactive advice, as well as its risk assessments for its clients.’

‘Daniel Pulecio-Boek is a brilliant litigator and we were impressed with the level of knowledge and the options that he constantly gave us. A true rainmaker.’

‘Daniel Pulecio-Boek is an outstanding practitioner who is great to work with.’

Key clients

Ernesto Cordova

Large Group of Costa Rican Victims

Erick Archila-Dehesa

Rais Family

Work highlights

  • Represented the former general manager of the largest energy plant in Central America in a cross-border corruption investigation, including alleged violations of the FCPA, and potential US extradition proceedings.
  • Represented a group of Costa Rican victims in a large Ponzi scheme and related Department of Justice (DoJ), SEC and receivership proceedings.
  • Represented the owner of Grupo A, one of Guatemala’s largest media conglomerates, and former Minister of Mines and Energy of Guatemala, in connection with a money laundering prosecution by the Guatemalan government.

Hogan Lovells US LLP

Hogan Lovells US LLP has extensive connections to Latin America, most notably through its large and highly established Miami office, along with highly acclaimed offices in Brazil and Mexico. This has enabled the firm to develop a strong pipeline of anti-corruption investigations engagements, including FCPA investigations. Miami partner Rafael Ribeiro is the key name in Latin America investigations and in pre-acquisition due diligence exercises. Washington DC's Peter Spivack is also highly experienced in FCPA investigations, including those involving Latin American entities.

Kobre & Kim

Kobre & Kim's Sao Paulo and Miami offices have a significant focus on white-collar crime and investigations, with the teams representing a range of multinationals, Latin American corporates, executives and public officials. The firm has landed a series of major mandates, particularly for executives and public officials in Brazil, Venezuela and many other Latin American jurisdictions. Sao Paulo's Martin De Luca has extensive experience in representing high-net-worth individuals and corporates in government enforcement actions; he is a former US Department of Justice (DoJ) prosecutor. Sao Paulo partner Gabriela Ruiz is a recognised white-collar crime specialist, including money laundering cases. Miami's Evelyn Sheehan and Adriana Riviere-Badell are also key partners.

Practice head(s):

Martin De Luca; Gabriela Ruiz

Work highlights

  • Represented Atvos Agroindustrial Investimentos in providing US litigation advice and broader strategic advice in response to a hostile takeover attempt by Lone Star Funds.
  • Represented former Venezuelan Ministry of Oil General Counsel Carmelo Urdaneta Aqui in a criminal prosecution led by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) alleging misconduct in creating money laundering mechanisms involving billions of dollars of funds from Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
  • Advised eight executives of a multinational company with offices in Europe, Asia, and the Americas, which has come under investigation by US and Brazilian authorities for corruption practices taking place in Latin America.

Morrison & Foerster LLP

Morrison & Foerster LLP combines global eminence in white-collar crime, compliance and investigations, with ever deeper roots into Latin America. The firm has landed a series of impressive engagements, not least being mandated as US compliance monitor to the Odebrecht (now Novonor) monitorship, following Odebrecht's headline FCPA settlement in 2016; the monitorship was completed in November 2020. The firm is also active in internal investigations for Latin American corporates and multinationals with interests in Latin America. It also represents a number of individuals involved in alleged fraud, bribery and corruption. New York partner Ruti Smithline is co-chair of the firm’s investigations and white-collar criminal defence group and co-chair of the Latin America Desk.

Practice head(s):

Ruti Smithline

Key clients

Odebrecht Monitorship

Work highlights

  • Served as the DOJ-appointed independent corporate compliance monitor for the large South American company in the wake of a multi-jurisdictional resolution of one of the largest bribery schemes in history that was successfully concluded at the end of 2020.

Paul Hastings LLP

Paul Hastings LLP has an extensive Latin America practice, with its investigations and white-collar defence practice operating as a core component. This group of team members represents a number of high-profile Latin America businesses in enforcement and investigations matters in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia and other jurisdictions. The firm is well known for investigations in the life sciences and financial products segments. Washington DC partners Corinne Lammers, Robert Luskin and John Darden  have extensive experience in big-ticket matters in Latin America. Also in the DC office, younger partner Bryan Parr has a particuar focus on Brazil matters as part of his wider Latin America-centred practice.

Practice head(s):

Kwame Manley

Key clients

Braskem (Brazil)

Braskem Idesa (Mexico)

Embraer (Brazil)

SQM (Sociedad Química y Minera de Chile)

Technip Brasil Engenharia

Airbus and Airbus Group (Netherlands)

Alexion (USA)

SBM Offshore

Orthofix International

Goldman Sachs

Work highlights

  • Advised Braskem on its anti-corruption monitorship following its December 2016 FCPA settlement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), its subsequent independent compliance monitorship, and the conclusion of its obligations under the settlement.
  • Advised Brazil-based Embraer on its independent, anti-corruption compliance monitorship as required by its October 2016 FCPA settlements with the US Department of Justice and the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Advised TechnipFMC on corruption investigations in the US, Brazil and France, interacting with the DOJ and overseeing efforts of local counsel and other professionals in Brazil and France, and supporting TFMC in its self-monitorship.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP

Steptoe & Johnson LLP has a prominent standing in FCPA and anti-corruption investigations with Lucinda Low having an outstanding reputation. The Spanish and Portuguese speaker leads a team that has deep experience in representing government officials and individuals across Latin America. The group is also noted for compliance programmes and pre-transaction anti-corruption due diligence.

Practice head(s):

Lucinda Low

Winston & Strawn LLP

Winston & Strawn LLP has significantly developed its white-collar crime and investigations credentials in the last three years. The US-based team now features a string of highly-rated professionals, including a number that have extensive experience of FCPA and anti-corruption matters in Latin America. The firm has represented some of the biggest corporate names in the region, including state-owned entities, along with a range of public officials and other individuals. San Francisco partner Pamela Davis is a leader in FCPA and global investigations, including a large number involving Latin America. She also has deep expertise in compliance programmes and pre-M&A due diligence. On a number of occasions she has been appointed as an independent FCPA consultant or monitor by the SEC or Department of Justice in investigations into Brazil-based businesses. Washington DC's Abbe Lowell and Cari Stinebower are also noted for big-ticket matters, including FCPA and sanctions investigations, involving Latin America.

Practice head(s):

Allen Miller; Talbert Navia

Key clients

Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex)

Banco San Juan Internacional

Work highlights

  • Represented Pemex, Mexico’s state-owned oil and gas company, and the second largest Latin American company, in various regulatory matters and disputes.
  • Advised a global Latin American mining company and its affiliates on risk assessment and its global anti-corruption compliance programmes.
  • Represented Banco San Juan Internacional when a search warrant was served on it, and a civil forfeiture action was filed against it, alleging serious crimes.