GIR 100 2020

K&L Gates

Professional notice

Whether it's accounting fraud, bribery or antitrust, K&L Gates, with its strong roster of lawyers, has a track record of securing favourable outcomes for clients.

The firm

K&L Gates's investigations practice has more than 40 lawyers spanning five continents. The group includes former senior US government officials from the Department of Justice (DOJ), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The practice is coordinated by Pittsburgh-based Brian Saulnier and Washington, DC-based Stephen Topetzes. Saulnier is a Who's Who Legal: Investigations nominee.

The firm offers several types of practice areas including anti-bribery and anti-corruption, accounting fraud, anti-money laundering, healthcare fraud, congressional investigations and securities enforcement.

In 2020, K&L Gates hired David Rybicki to join the firm in Washington, DC. Rybicki previously served as the acting principal deputy assistant attorney general and deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ's criminal division. While at the DOJ, he led the investigation, prosecution and coordination of high-profile cases involving money laundering, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and cybercrime.

Partner Christopher Nasson in Boston previously served as an assistant US attorney in both the Eastern District of New York and the Eastern District of Kentucky. Another former assistant US attorney in South Carolina, Matthew Hubbell, joined the firm as a partner in 2017. Hubbell once represented a former corporate board chairman in a month-long securities fraud trial.

In London, Clarissa Coleman, a litigation and arbitration partner, chairs the firm's diversity and inclusion committee. Coleman is former senior litigation counsel for billionaire property developer Vincent Tchenguiz's company Consensus Business Group. In 2011, Tchenguiz was arrested in connection with the collapse of Icelandic bank Kaupthing. He was released without charge and ultimately received an apology from the UK's Serious Fraud Office. She was deputy general counsel at Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation several years ago, and while there worked on a cross-border investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption levelled against the company. The London office is also home to investigations partner and barrister Dylan Moses.

Neil Smith, who joined from the SEC's foreign bribery unit in 2017, previously worked on two significant Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases: the first FCPA settlement with a hedge fund, Och-Ziff Capital Management, and JPMorgan Chase's resolution concerning improper hiring practices in Asia.

More recently, Andrew Wright joined the firm. Wright served as associate counsel to President Barack Obama and assistant counsel to Vice President Al Gore. He was also majority staff director for the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs of the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Clients have noted the level of professionalism and dedication the team puts in its work. One client was particularly impressed by partner Neil Smith, who was described as strategic, tactical and practical.

Recent events

The firm represents US-based nuclear power company Westinghouse Electric. K&L Gates, in coordination with the audit committee of the company's former parent company, Toshiba, conducted an investigation into multimillion-dollar cost overruns on the construction of two nuclear power plants. Toshiba sold the bankrupt Westinghouse in 2018.

A large K&L Gates team of 17 lawyers across seven offices in the US are representing multiple defendants implicated in a massive healthcare fraud scheme being investigated by a handful of US authorities including the FBI. The scheme involved alleged kickbacks paid by medical equipment companies to marketing companies and physicians across the globe in exchange for patient referrals. The investigation is dubbed “Operation Brace Yourself”.

Clients

K&L Gates has worked with several financial institutions including real estate investment firm Aria Partners, Raptor Group Holdings, Bain Capital Credit, John Hancock Financial Services and Wells Fargo.

Network

The firm has headquarters in Pittsburgh, with offices in Beijing, Seoul, Berlin, Singapore, Brussels, Taipei, Doha, Warsaw, London, Paris, Tokyo and Washington, DC.

Track record

In 2017, the firm guided Japanese electronics manufacturer Nichicon Corporation to a plea agreement with US federal prosecutors over allegations that it participated in a price-fixing scheme. The firm had to coordinate investigations in multiple countries.

K&L Gates represented financial services giant Western Union and conducted an internal investigation that involved ten jurisdictions. The company entered a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department in 2017 after it admitted to anti-money laundering and consumer fraud violations.

Four K&L Gates partners and 10 associates conducted an internal investigation into building company Nortek's China branch. The firm interviewed locals, then collected and analysed electronic and paper documents. The DOJ and the SEC were both conducting investigations into the company.

The firm was supported by KPMG, which handled the forensic audit. In June 2016, the company agreed to pay around US$320,000 in disgorgement and interest over allegations that between 2009 and 2014 a subsidiary paid Chinese officials in return for reduced taxes and relaxed regulatory oversight, according to the SEC. The company signed a non-prosecution agreement with the SEC, and the DOJ declined to prosecute the company. The declination was the first of its kind under the DOJ's FCPA pilot programme that provided the possibility of benefits to companies that self-report potential FCPA violations. The programme was made permanent in 2017 and is now called the FCPA corporate enforcement policy.

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