Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

GIR 100 2019

Greenberg Traurig

25 October 2019

Greenberg Traurig has been seen in several high-profile cases. The firm represented defunct UK political consultancy Cambridge Analytica in the US special counsel investigation and acts for US engineering company KBR in an ongoing UK Serious Fraud Office investigation.

The firm

Miami-based firm Greenberg Traurig’s white-collar practice took off in 1989 when veteran attorney Mark Schnapp joined the firm from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

Currently, shareholder Barry Vitou in London and Washington, DC-based Nathan Muyskens co-chair the firm’s global white-collar defence practice.

Vitou joined the firm from Pinsent Masons in May 2018 as part of the firm’s push into the London investigations market. He works alongside former SFO prosecutor Anne-Marie Ottaway, who joined the firm in September 2018 from the same firm. Ottaway is a former Serious Fraud Office prosecutor and case controller. While at their previous firm, Vitou and Ottaway represented construction company Sweett Group, the first company to plead guilty to failing to prevent bribery, in December 2015.

Shareholder Lisa Navarro, who focuses primarily on competition matters but also advises companies on anti-corruption, also works in the London office.

Alongside Muyskens in the Washington, DC office is former Department of Justice trial lawyer Pamela Marple and Elaine Greenberg, who was a senior officer in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division and also associate director of the agency’s Philadelphia regional office over a 25-year career at the agency.

In the New York office is shareholder Daniel Filor, a former Southern District prosecutor, and Obiamaka Madubuko, who regularly advises US-based companies on compliance with the UK Bribery Act and the FCPA.

Elsewhere in the US, is a former co-chair of the firm’s white-collar practice, John Pappalardo, a former US attorney for the District of Massachusetts who works from the firm’s Boston office. In Dallas, the firm hired Robert Long, a former senior attorney at the SEC, who joined in March 2019.

In Shanghai, co-managing shareholder George Qi focuses his practice on internal investigations into regulatory violations, including the FCPA. The firm’s Mexico City office is home to Hugo López Coll, a GIR 40 under 40 nominee in 2017, who advises clients on regulatory and compliance matters, including potential FCPA violations. Coll and Vitou are both listed in Who’s Who Legal: Investigations, while Vitou, Schnapp and Gregory Kehoe are listed in Who’s Who Legal: Business Crime Defence.

Two former co-chairs of the white-collar practice, Schnapp and Mark Mukasey, left the firm in 2019. Schnapp served as co-chair of the firm’s global white-collar practice in Miami until 2016 and left in July 2019 to join Baker Donelson. Mukasey left the firm in March 2019 to launch his own white-collar defence boutique with two other former Greenberg Traurig shareholders.

Recent events

Dwyer acted for US-Haitian citizen Roger Boncy, whom a Boston jury found guilty in August of conspiring to bribe Haitian officials to secure business. Boncy was convicted alongside former US army colonel Joseph Baptiste of soliciting bribes from two undercover FBI agents, who were pretending to be investors, in return for securing business in Haiti. Boncy was acquitted of conspiracy to launder money and violating the Travel Act.

The firm represented defunct UK political consulting company Cambridge Analytica in the US special counsel investigation into Russia attempts to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election as well as House of Representatives and Senate hearings. Cambridge Analytica became embroiled in scandal in 2017 when UK newspaper The Observer published an exposé into its collection of Facebook data without the consent of users for political campaigns.   

Vitou is acting for US engineering company KBR as it faces a bribery investigation by the SFO based on the company’s hiring of scandal-ridden Monaco oil consultants Unaoil. The company is currently appealing against a 2018 decision by the High Court of England and Wales to allow the SFO to compel foreign companies to hand over documents held overseas.

Pappalardo advised South American football association Conmebol’s former president, Juan Ángel Napout, who received a nine-year jail sentence in August 2018 after being found guilty of racketeering, wire fraud and money-laundering charges over claims he accepted bribes linked to the sale of marketing rights for football tournaments.

The firm also acted for Fabio Frazzetto, a former banker at Swiss bank Julius Baer, who was charged by the DOJ in 2016 for allegedly assisting US citizens in tax evasion. Frazetto pleaded guilty and was sentenced to time served and a year of supervised release in 2018. The case stemmed from Julius Baer’s US$547.25 million settlement with the DOJ in 2016 for helping US citizens evade their US tax obligations.

Network

Greenberg Traurig’s investigations lawyers are based in 12 of the firm’s 48 offices including in Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York, London, Mexico City and Shanghai.

Clients

The firm has represented a range of high-profile individuals and corporates in white-collar investigations, including US engineering company KBR and former Fifa official Juan Ángel Napout

Other corporate clients include healthcare companies Wellcare Health Plans and Exactech, as well as UK political consultancy Cambridge Analytica and firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson.

Track record

In 2016, lawyers at the firm were part of the team representing ex-Countrywide executive Rebecca Mairone Steele. Federal prosecutors had pursued both Bank of America and Mairone Steele over the sale of faulty loans, but an appeal courts overturned penalties against both.

In the FCPA space, Greenberg Traurig is well known for representing engineering company Atkins North America in its investigation by the SEC and DOJ. The joint investigation into the Atkins’ bids on contracts in Qatar and Morocco resulted in a declination from the DOJ and the SEC’s second-ever FCPA deferred prosecution agreement in January 2015.

The firm also advised Smith & Wesson in its 2014 settlement with the SEC, which arose from the 2010 Africa sting operation that targeted 22 employees of various military contractors.

Pappalardo has also acted for the former chairman of Russian oil company Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, on charges of fraud and tax evasion. He was sentenced to nine years in prison, before being released in 2013.

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