GIR 100 2021

Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown

Professional notice

Mayer Brown continues to secure top companies as clients in high-stakes international matters; the firm’s investigations practice has particular prowess in the FCPA arena.

The firm

The firm’s investigations practice has honed a specialty for foreign bribery cases thanks to partner Laurence Urgenson, who co-leads Mayer Brown’s global anti-corruption and FCPA practice with Audrey Harris, William Michael and Jason Linder.

Urgenson, the recipient of GIR's Outstanding Career Award in 2018, has represented six companies in FCPA settlements since the Siemens case in 2008 – the third most of any lawyer, according to GIR's FCPA Counsel Tracker.

Harris returned to the firm in late 2018 after a stint as the first chief compliance officer for Anglo-Australian mining company BHP.

Adding again to its foreign bribery expertise, the firm hired former FCPA prosecutor Jason Linder, based in Los Angeles, who worked on foreign bribery investigations into Brazilian aerospace company Embraer and US technology company Hewlett-Packard while in government. Linder was chosen for GIR’s Top FCPA Practitioner’s list as a practitioner to watch in 2021.

The firm boasts several ex-government officials, including former Manhattan federal prosecutors Glen Kopp and Daniel Stein. Stein is a former chief of the criminal division in the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Under his tenure, the office brought cases including a $795 million global settlement in 2016 with telecommunications company VimpelCom. As a prosecutor, Kopp investigated a group of US-based Russian agents in an operation known as the Illegals Program, which was partly the inspiration for the television series The Americans.

Mayer Brown also relies on Washington, DC-based partner Richard Ben-Veniste, who was one of the lead prosecutors on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. In another prominent government probe, Ben-Veniste was chief counsel of the Senate Whitewater Committee, which investigated the Clintons' real estate dealings. The same office also features Ori Lev, the former enforcement director at the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In February 2020, former Paul Hastings partner Michael Levy joined the firm in Washington, DC.

Raj De, a managing partner in the DC office, was recently on the Biden administration’s DOJ transition team. De was staff secretary to President Obama and general counsel to the US National Security Agency. He also served as counsel to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, known as the “9/11 Commission”.

The firm's Chicago office can rely on its capacity to represent financial institutions in investigations with Megan Webster, who was the head of commercial litigation at the Bank of Montreal, and Matt Kluchenek, who the firm recruited from Baker McKenzie.

Michele Natal, another expert when it comes to financial institutions, joined the firm as counsel in New York in August 2020. She spent over a decade at The Bank of New York Mellon conducting global internal investigations and managing enforcement matters.

Also in New York, Gina Parlovecchio, a former Brooklyn federal prosecutor who rose to chief of the international narcotics and money laundering section, joined the firm in July 2020. She was lead trial counsel in the prosecution of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, who was sentenced in 2019 to 30 years in prison.

The firm also has a strong offering outside the US. Alan Linning, previously the executive director of the enforcement team at the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, is the firm's most prominent white-collar lawyer in Hong Kong. In Paris, partner Nicolette Kost De Sevres heads the French compliance team and also works out of the DC office. She was special senior counsel in the New York Stock Exchange's Paris office as well as senior special counsel at the Royal Bank of Scotland in London. She was chosen for GIR’s 2021 Women in Investigations survey.

In Brazil, the firm counts Tauil & Chequer Advogados as an associated firm. The white-collar practice includes Luís Inácio Lucena Adams, who was the attorney general of Brazil from 2009 to 2016, and also features partner Michel Sancovski.

The names to know in London are partners Sam Eastwood and Jason Hungerford. Eastwood came to the firm after almost three decades at Norton Rose Fulbright. Hungerford previously worked on the investigation into Swedish telecoms company Telia, which resulted in an almost $1 billion settlement with US, Swedish and Dutch authorities in 2017.

The firm has six Who's Who Legal: Investigations nominees and two Who's Who Legal: Business Crime Defence nominees.

Recent events

The firm has had some notable work on multi-lateral development bank cases recently.

GIR reported that Mayer Brown’s Marlon Paz, a former senior Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) anti-corruption official, is advising a businessman concerning penalty proceedings being brought against him by the IDB. Christopher Thibedeau and another businessman asked a US court to halt the proceedings, arguing that the bank violated its own procedures in investigating the case. A Washington, DC federal judge said in April 2021 that IDB sanctions procedures are immune from lawsuits.

Mayer Brown recently represented French and Brazilian subsidiaries of Veolia Water Technologies in connection with a World Bank investigation. The French and Brazilian subsidiaries were debarred for two years and one year, respectively, overly allegedly fraudulent and collusive practices during a bidding process under a World Bank-financed project in Colombia.

Companies continue to hire the firm for internal investigations.

The firm was instructed by Brazilian waste management company Sanepar to conduct an independent forensic investigation into alleged fraud related to sewer works bids, GIR reported in 2021.

Mayer Brown is also advising 3M in an internal investigation involving alleged FCPA violations in China.


Mayer Brown is a global firm of more than 1,700 lawyers in 26 offices, with more than 200 lawyers in New York, London and Hong Kong alone.

Mayer Brown has a formal association with one of Brazil's largest firms, Tauil & Chequer Advogados.


While many of the firm's clients are confidential, it has advised some of the world’s most prominent financial institutions and companies including HSBC, Société Générale and 3M.

Track record

The firm ran internal investigations related to the Swiss Bank Program, under which the DOJ offered Non-Prosecution Agreements to banks that voluntarily told authorities they helped US citizens avoid paying tax. The firm guided five banks to such NPAs in late 2015: Banque Internationale a Luxembourg, BBVA, Credit Agricole, KBL and PostFinance.

Mayer Brown has plenty of experience with FCPA matters too.

Mayer Brown represented French bank Société Générale in its internal investigation into FCPA violations, GIR previously reported. In the first-ever coordinated resolution with French and US authorities, the bank agreed to pay $1.3 billion in 2018 for bribing Gaddafi-era Libyan officials and manipulating Libor. The firm was also counsel to Société Générale in a US settlement over alleged US Libor manipulation. Société Générale resolved allegations with the DOJ and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that several employees falsely deflated US Libor submissions. The case was a landmark moment for foreign bribery enforcement as it was the first joint resolution between authorities in the US and France.

Urgenson represented casino hotel company Las Vegas Sands in its FCPA settlements with US authorities. The firm advised Las Vegas Sands in its April 2016 SEC settlement. Then in January 2017, the company settled with the DOJ for $6.96 million to resolve the matter. The non-prosecution agreement appeared to cover the same misconduct cited nine months earlier in the SEC's settlement.

Urgenson’s also served as a DOJ appointed monitor. According to GIR's FCPA Counsel Tracker, Chilean airline LATAM retained Urgenson as a monitor for three years under its $22.2 million agreement in 2016 that resolved allegations it bribed Argentine union officials to obtain favourable labour contracts. The monitorship ended in 2019 when Urgenson certified that the company's compliance programme was reasonably designed and implemented.

With offices throughout the Americas, Asia, Middle East and Europe, Mayer Brown offers clients all-encompassing investigations, regulatory defense & compliance solutions to ensure compliance with an increasingly global regulatory framework and to help clients of our firm respond effectively to investigations by regulators throughout the world. We regularly represent and counsel companies and individuals on a wide range of multinational investigations and litigations such as matters involving the FCPA and other global anti-corruption efforts, internal investigations, DOJ/SEC or foreign investigations and enforcement proceedings, compliance reviews, and due diligence regarding mergers and acquisitions.

Our cross-border investigations capabilities are strengthened by our global presence, with regional offices and partners in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America. Where knowledge of local laws is required, we work closely with colleagues in our international offices to ensure compliance with any applicable local laws and regulations.

Our team includes numerous former government officials, including many who held high-ranking supervisory positions, federal prosecutors from US Attorney’s offices around the country and lawyers from international and federal regulatory agencies. For example, our team includes a former acting deputy assistant attorney general and chief of the DOJ’s Fraud Section; a former chief of the Criminal Division for the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York; a former chief of the International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section in the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York; a former deputy enforcement director of the CFPB; attorneys from several federal regulatory agencies, including the SEC’s Division of Enforcement; and the former Chief Counsel of the US Senate Judiciary Committee and Chief of the Watergate Task Force. Our team also includes global enforcement lawyers, such as the former Executive Director of Enforcement of the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission and the former attorney general of Brazil.


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