Baker & McKenzie

Baker & McKenzie combines the resources of 77 offices worldwide with a team of DC-based FCPA practitioners that includes specialists in jurisdictions such as Russia, Brazil and Africa.

While the firm handled FCPA matters before enforcement took off in the 2000s, the current team began with the lateral hire of Richard Dean from Coudert Brothers, a New York-based international law firm that dissolved in 2005. At Coudert, Dean began to develop an FCPA practice more than 20 years ago, advising companies on how to structure transactions to comply with the anti-foreign bribery statute. 

In 2008, the firm expanded its FCPA capabilities with the addition of Joan Meyer, Brian Whisler and Reagan Demas.

Meyer, a former federal prosecutor who now chairs Baker & McKenzie’s compliance, investigations and government enforcement practice in North America, previously served as senior counsel to the deputy attorney general at the Justice Department and as a senior trial attorney at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Whisler, co-chair of the firm’s North American government enforcement practice, is a former prosecutor and criminal chief in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Demas, meanwhile, came to the firm from the International Justice Mission, a non-profit organisation focused on human rights and anti-corruption, where he served as director of operations in Africa. At Baker & McKenzie, Demas specialises in Africa-related FCPA matters.

More recent hires include John Rowley III and Thomas Firestone.

Firestone, the firm’s resident Russia expert, began his career as a prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York, specialising in white-collar crime, before serving as a resident legal advisor at the US Embassy in Moscow, where he worked on issues related to US-Russian law enforcement cooperation. Firestone rebuffed an effort by Russia’s federal security service to recruit him as a spy, which apparently led to his expulsion from the country in 2013, the New York Times reported.

Rowley, who has devoted a significant portion of his practice to advising multinationals operating in Brazil, was a prosecutor for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he served for three years as chief of the narcotics section.

Baker & McKenzie has handled an impressive number of high-profile FCPA matters. The firm represented freight forwarding company Panalpina, which settled foreign bribery violations with the DOJ and SEC in 2010 by paying US$236.5 million in penalties and disgorgement. In 2015, the firm was involved in three separate FCPA settlements, including with aluminum manufacturer Alcoa, nutrition company Mead Johnson and construction management company Louis Berger.

The firm handled Alcoa’s internal investigation and disclosure to the DOJ and SEC, and participated with co-counsel from Cravath Swaine & Moore, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison in negotiations with the DOJ and the SEC, which resulted in US$384 million in penalties and disgorgement.

Baker & McKenzie’s FCPA team conducted an internal investigation for Mead Johnson in China. Partner Richard Dean advised the company on strategy and legal issues throughout the investigation, which resulted in a US$12 million settlement with the SEC in July 2015.

Whisler led a team that conducted a five-year internal investigation for New Jersey-based construction management company Louis Berger in jurisdictions including India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, France, Panama, Kuwait, Congo, Brazil, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The investigation included disclosures to the Justice Department, the World Bank, USAID, the Asian Development Bank, and other agencies, and resulted in debarment by the World Bank and US$17 million in penalties imposed by the DOJ.

More recently, Baker & McKenzie served as lead counsel to Nordion, a medical isotopes and sterilisation technologies company, which in 2016 paid US$375,000 to settle FCPA charges brought by the SEC.

Rowley and Meyer are leading an investigation for Embraer, a Brazilian commercial aircraft manufacturer, which has involved more than 150 interviews. The company is cooperating with the DOJ and the SEC, which have been investigating the matter for six years.

Rowley and Meyer also serve as lead counsel for Braskem, a petrochemicals manufacturer, in an investigation that involves allegations of US$25 million in bribes paid to executives of Petrobras and members of Brazil’s congress in exchange for a multi-billion dollar supply contract in 2009.

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