GIR 100 2022

K&L Gates

K&L Gates

Professional notice

The firm’s investigations and white-collar lawyers have worked matters ranging from antitrust, fraud and bribery cases to the representation of a Pennsylvania diocese in state and federal investigations of child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. 

The Firm

K&L Gates's investigations practice has lawyers in offices on five continents. The group includes former senior US government officials from the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. The practice is coordinated by Brian Saulnier and Stephen Topetzes. Saulnier has been recognised in Who's Who Legal: Investigations for each of the last six years.

The firm’s investigations practice covers a broad range of areas, including anti-bribery and anti-corruption, accounting fraud, anti-money laundering, healthcare fraud, congressional investigations, and securities enforcement.

Prominent names in the practice include Robert Higdon Jr, who previously served as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.  During his tenure as US Attorney, Higdon’s office handled numerous high-profile matters involving national security, cybercrime, public corruption, and financial fraud, among other matters. Robert, a partner in the firm’s Research Triangle Park and Washington, DC offices, brings nearly three decades of experience in government and in private practice, to guide clients facing regulatory proceedings, enforcement actions, grand jury investigations, white-collar criminal prosecution, and related civil litigation.

Andrew Wright, a partner in the Washington, DC office, re-joined the firm after serving as Director of Legal Policy for the Biden-Harris Presidential Transition. Previously, Andrew served as Associate Counsel to President Barack Obama and Assistant Counsel to Vice President Al Gore. Andrew guides clients through Congressional oversight- and investigations-related matters, executive branch compliance, and government enforcement actions.

Boston-based partner Neil Smith, who is a former member of the SEC’s FCPA specialised unit, is a recognised expert in FCPA enforcement and has represented clients before the US DOJ, FBI and SEC, as well as the UK’s SFO and FCA.

In Chicago, partner Clifford Histed represents clients in highly regulated industries such as healthcare, and securities and commodities futures trading. Histed previously worked as in-house counsel for a global trading company for two years. In addition, he has a litany of government experience, having served as supervisory assistant US attorney for eight and half years.

London-based partner Michael Ruck previously worked in the FCA’s Enforcement Division, where he led financial services regulatory projects, investigations and proceedings for a range of institutions. Michael’s experience spans a wide variety of regulatory issues and representations include asset and fund managers, insurance businesses and banks.

In March, the firm brought in K&L former federal prosecutor Nathan Huff as a partner in its complex commercial litigation and disputes practice in North Carolina.

Recent Events

The firm represents Westinghouse Electric Company in a federal and state criminal investigation arising out of the company’s abandonment of a nuclear reactor construction project, which incurred multi-billion-dollar cost overruns. The firm has previously handled an internal investigation for the company in coordination with the audit committee of its Japanese parent Toshiba. 

In another ongoing matter, K&L Gates is handling a multijurisdictional internal investigation for Sembcorp Marine, which is ensnared in the Federal Police of Brazil’s ‘Operation Car Wash’ investigation. Among other activities, the firm is advising the client with respect to a possible leniency agreement.

The firm also represents multiple defendants implicated in a massive healthcare fraud scheme being investigated by a handful of US authorities, including the FBI. The investigation is dubbed “Operation Brace Yourself.”  The scheme involved alleged kickbacks paid by medical equipment companies to marketing companies and physicians across the globe in exchange for patient referrals. The DOJ announced criminal charges against 36 defendants in 13 federal districts in July 2022.


K&L Gates works with a broad spectrum of clients, including Westinghouse Electric, the Catholic Diocese of Erie, Pennsylvania Nichicon Corporation, Nortek, and Sembcorp Marine, as well as high-profile individuals, such as former senior US State Department official George Kent.


The firm spans five continents, with more than 40 offices located in key capital cities and world commercial and financial centres.

Track Record

After conducting a multi-jurisdiction, cross-border investigation, K&L Gates guided Japanese electronics manufacturer Nichicon Corporation to a plea agreement with US federal prosecutors over allegations that it participated in a price-fixing scheme.

K&L Gates represented financial services giant Western Union and conducted an internal investigation across 10 jurisdictions. The company entered a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.

A cross-office, cross-discipline team of K&L Gates investigations lawyers conducted an internal investigation into alleged FCPA violations at a Chinese subsidiary of Nortek, Inc. Following the investigation, K&L Gates guided Nortek through the process of self-reporting to the SEC and the DOJ, representing the company in the ensuing discussions regarding resolution. Nortek entered into a rare SEC Non-Prosecution Agreement and the DOJ declined to prosecute.

K&L Gates is a fully integrated global law firm with lawyers located across five continents. The firm represents leading multinational corporations, growth and middle-market companies, capital markets participants and entrepreneurs in every major industry group as well as public sector entities, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations and individuals. K&L Gates has one of the largest, most comprehensive, and most geographically diverse investigations, enforcement, and white collar practices of any law firm.

Whether a matter involves the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Trade Commission, Financial Services Authority (FSA), BaFin, the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong, state Attorneys General, or another law enforcement agency, our lawyers located across Asia, Australia, Europe, and the United States have substantial experience in addressing matters early and proactively.

Our team includes two former United States Attorneys, multiple former DOJ prosecutors and SEC staff, former state securities regulators, and former staff lawyers from FINRA, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and numerous other law enforcement agencies from around the world.


Our lawyers have handled hundreds of government and internal investigations relating to a full spectrum of substantive matters on behalf of corporations and individuals. These matters have included everything from routine inquiries, to high-visibility state and federal investigations, to grand jury proceedings and criminal trials, to congressional investigations. Investigations are oftentimes complex, with intersecting and conflicting laws, regulations, and policies, while also posing difficult questions of individual rights and public policy. This broad range of experience allows us to navigate clients through these challenges.

We have been involved in nearly every significant enforcement initiative during the past 40 years. Most recently, K&L Gates’s investigations lawyers have been involved in investigations relating to Brazil’s “Operation Car Wash,” the global automobile emissions scandal, and investigations by various European regulators into Tesco, Serco, and Unaoil-related matters.  Our work includes high-profile anti-bribery and anti-corruption investigations across industries and jurisdictions, as well as criminal anti-trust matters.  In fact, K&L Gates recently secured a victory for Koch Foods in a criminal anti-trust case.

In addition, we handle insider trading, mutual fund market timing or late trading, analyst research conflicts, options backdating, auction rate securities, municipal finance and the marketing or trading of municipal securities and other public debt, among other financial-related matters.   

Moreover, our experienced congressional investigations team stands ready to assist clients faced with a House or Senate investigation. We recently represented a major online platform in front of the January 6 Committee, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Senate Commerce Committee, and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. This team knows the unique process and understands how investigative committees and subcommittees operate. Our knowledge and understanding, including familiarity with members and staff, provides us with the tools clients need to respond to document requests, witness invitations, and subpoenas, as well as to prepare witnesses for congressional testimony—which often unfolds in front of television cameras rather than a courtroom.

Enforcement and White Collar

Our enforcement and white collar lawyers defend corporations and individuals in a wide range of investigations and enforcement matters. These lawyers, many of whom are former prosecutors, are located across our offices in the United States and abroad, and use their firsthand experience and knowledge of how the government conducts investigations and prosecutions to assist clients in achieving successful outcomes.

Some matters are made even more complex because they involve parallel criminal, civil, and regulatory proceedings arising out of the same set of facts and circumstances. We have a breadth of experience representing corporations and individuals in these types of matters, drawing on the firm’s full spectrum of skills and resources, including collaboration with colleagues from other practice groups when appropriate. Parallel proceedings present unique problems, such as whether a corporate officer should invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege due to a pending criminal investigation during civil depositions, thereby permitting an adverse inference to attaches in a civil proceeding. Our lawyers have been successful in convincing federal judges to stay the civil proceeding pending the resolution of the criminal investigation, thereby presenting the corporation with the ability to defend itself in the civil matter.

We recently concluded our four year representation of twelve individuals, including the CEO and GC of a public company, being investigated for alleged violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, with none being named subjects or targets.


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