GIR 100 2020

Boies Schiller Flexner

Professional notice

Boies Schiller Flexner's investigations team represents an impressive book of clients - including large companies and high-profile individuals. It has recently recruited former government prosecutors amid a well-publicised restructuring.

The firm

Boies Schiller's global investigations and white-collar defence practice includes, by its own count, 19 former federal prosecutors, as well as former officials at agencies including the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission.

In New York, this includes former Manhattan federal prosecutors Matthew Schwartz, John Zach and Peter Skinner. The office also features former New York state prosecutor Harlan Levy and Nicholas Gravante, a seasoned trial and business crime lawyer who was recently elected co-managing partner.

The firm has added several heavy hitters to its ranks. Jesse Panuccio, a former acting associate US attorney general, joined the firm in December 2019 and works in its Washington, DC, and Florida offices. Lauren Bell joined in DC in June from the Justice Department (DOJ), where she was senior counsel to the criminal division chief.

The firm brought former LA federal prosecutor John Kucera into the fold in the city in August. He previously led the Justice Department's asset forfeiture efforts in connection with its investigation into alleged embezzlement of billions of dollars from Malaysian wealth fund 1MDB, including the largest ever single action targeting over US$1 billion, announced in July 2016.

In London, the firm added Tracey Dovaston, Barclays' former head of litigation, investigations and regulatory enforcement, as a partner in January. There, she joined Matthew Getz, who predominantly acts for large financial institutions and multinationals in investigations by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) as well as the DOJ.

The firm has recently seen a generational handover of leadership and associated change in direction after electing Gravante and Natasha Harrison as its co-managing partners in December 2019.

Since then Boies Schiller has reportedly seen the departure of some 30 partners, as well as many other lawyers. Notable investigations lawyers that left experience include Manhattan federal prosecutor Andrew Michaelson and David Willingham, a former deputy chief of the major fraud section at the Los Angeles federal prosecutor's office.

The managing partners have attributed the changes to a planned restructuring accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, according to an interview with the co-managing partners in the Financial Times published in April 2020.

The departures come in the wake of a series of controversies surrounding the firm co-founder David Boies - his prior representation of Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer and now a convicted sex offender, for example - as well as a reported decrease in revenue and disagreements over compensation.

Boies Schiller has said it has downsized and improved the firm's structure to allow it to once again focus on the most complex cases, similar to the matters that the firm's founders built its reputation on. The firm has been one of the biggest names in US litigation over the past 20 years. Boies, the firm's chairman, remains among the most high-profile litigators out there.

Recent events

The firm is leading the international team of lawyers overseeing the defence of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak in US and Malaysian cases linked to the alleged embezzlement of billions of dollars from the Asian country's development fund 1MDB. In July, Najib was sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined US$50 million in a Malaysian case linked to the matter - he faces another 21 charges of money laundering in the country. He has consistently denied wrongdoing.

The firm also acts for Hollywood production company Red Granite Pictures, which was co-founded by Najib's stepson Riza Aziz. US prosecutors alleged the company funded several films, includingThe Wolf of Wall Street, with money embezzled from 1MDB. The company agreed to pay US$60 million in 2018 to resolve a civil lawsuit with the DOJ.

Sam Walsh, the former CEO of Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto, relies on the firm as his former employer faces investigations by the DOJ, SFO and Australian authorities over alleged bribery in Guinea.

The firm acts for Kazakhstan's BTA Bank in investigations by authorities in the US, UK, Switzerland, Ukraine, Russia, the UAE and Cyprus linked to the alleged theft of billions of dollars by the bank's former chairman.

Schwartz represented a senior executive at US nutrition company Herbalife in a US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into alleged misstatements the company made about its China business model. The company agreed to pay US$20 million to settle the matter in 2019 and the firm's client avoided charges.

Network

The firm has white-collar partners located in DC, New York and Los Angeles. Outside of the US, the firm has a presence in London.

Clients

The company has acted for a diverse group of clients from global banks to US sportswear brand Nike and the Kazakh bank BTA Bank.

In terms of individuals the firm acts for Erik Prince, the founder of private military company Blackwater (now called Academi), and UK investigator Peter Humphrey, who was imprisoned in China for work he did for GlaxoSmithKline in the country.

Track record

The firm has represented UK-headquartered bank HSBC in connection to US state and federal investigations into the issuance of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities.

Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, founded in 1997, has grown to more than 200 lawyers practicing in offices strategically located throughout the United States and in London, England.

The firm regularly serves as lead counsel on complex, high profile global matters. By combining the skill and diversity of Boies Schiller Flexner attorneys with the partnership’s well-established network of global resources, we are able to deliver consistent success for our clients across jurisdictions and throughout the world.

We treat every case from its inception as though it is headed for trial to ensure the best result for our clients, even though few go that far. Over the past two decades, Boies Schiller Flexner has tried more than 450 cases before juries and judges in federal and state courts throughout the United States and participated in more than 200 international arbitration proceedings.

Our seasoned trial lawyers and former prosecutors and regulators represent some of the world’s most prominent institutions and individuals, both before federal and state agencies and in litigation. We regularly appear before the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, Congress, State Attorneys General, other state, federal, and foreign agencies, and – when necessary – in court. Where proceedings are initiated, our lawyers represent corporate and individual clients at the pre-trial, trial, and appellate stages.

We not only help clients caught in government investigations, we also frequently assist clients that have been victims of crime to seek justice—whether by presenting their case to law enforcement or regulators, bringing civil claims in court, or both.  Based on our meticulous presentations of law and evidence, and our credibility before government officials, our team has had notable success in convincing authorities to bring charges where our clients have been harmed.

Our lawyers also regularly conduct internal investigations and help to create, maintain, and review effective compliance programs. Because each situation is unique, and because the credibility and independence of an internal investigation are critical to its success, our experienced team develops a unique plan for each client, while at the same time keeping disruption of the client’s business to a minimum.

Lawyers in the Global Investigations and White Collar Defense group include former federal prosecutors, senior officials from the Attorney General offices of New York and other states, the FTC, the White House, and Congress. The group’s partners have conducted more than 100 criminal trials.

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