GIR 100 2022

Shearman & Sterling

Shearman & Sterling

Professional notice

Shearman and Sterling helped Danske Bank as it agreed to plead guilty to US bank fraud charges and pay $2 billion resolution to resolve parallel investigations in the US and Denmark. Danske is just one among many other big financial institutions to have turned to the firm when facing major crises.

The firm

Shearman & Sterling’s pedigree in the investigations space can be summed up by one fact: the firm’s white-collar practice predates the FCPA, which was introduced in 1977. Today, Shearman's investigations group is well-known for its anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, sanctions and antitrust practices.

From the firm’s base in New York, Shearman’s global head of litigation and global managing partner Adam Hakki works on civil and criminal investigations and proceedings before the US DOJ, the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Also in New York, Stephen Fishbein cut his teeth in investigations while serving at the US attorney's office in Manhattan, where he specialised in prosecuting bank and computer fraud. Fishbein was a monitor for oilfield services provider Baker Hughes following its 2007 FCPA settlement; more recently, he successfully defended Todd Newman in an insider trading case that resulted in a landmark decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Fishbein is a Who's Who Legal: Business Crime Defence nominee.

Other names of note in New York are Paula Anderson, who has worked on corporate monitor teams for Baker Hughes and York International, and John Nathanson, a former federal prosecutor who served in the Brooklyn US attorney’s office and the Manhattan district attorney's office.

The firm’s Washington, DC office features partner Mark Lanpher, a former federal prosecutor and assistant chief litigation counsel in the SEC's enforcement division, and Adam Schwartz, another former federal prosecutor who now represents individuals and companies in investigations.

On the West Coast, clients can turn to Patrick Robbins in San Francisco for assistance in internal and government investigations and criminal defence in corruption, antitrust and securities fraud cases. His clients have included Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Uber and Toyota Motor Corporation.

From Hong Kong, fluent Mandarin speaker Brian Burke advises companies with operations in greater China. A client said they trusted Burke’s judgement, legal knowledge and practical guidance. Meanwhile, Masahisa Ikeda represents clients on anti-corruption and antitrust issues in Japan.

This past year, partner Philip Urofsky retired from the Washington, DC office after a long and successful career that earned him GIR’s Outstanding Career Award for 2022. Urofsky previously served as an assistant chief at the DOJ's criminal fraud section, where he investigated and helped develop the US approach to foreign bribery enforcement.

The firm has brought several new partners on board in the past few years.

In 2022, the investigations team took on two new partner-level hires in its Texas offices. The Austin office brought in Emily Westridge Black, an active fraud and corruption litigator experienced in both FCPA and UK Bribery Act cases. In Houston, the firm welcomed Samuel Cooper, who specialises in energy, oil and gas, petrochemical and private equity related disputes.

The year before, the New York office saw Katherine Stoller, white-collar criminal defence, investigations, and other complex litigation lawyer, to partner. Stoller has defended a number of individual and corporate clients in DOJ investigations, as well as a host of foreign companies in cross-border litigation matters.

Also in 2021, the Washington, DC office welcomed back Ryan Shores, a former associate deputy attorney general at the US Department of Justice’s antitrust division.

Recent events

The firm is representing Danske Bank, one of the largest banks in Denmark, in criminal proceedings regarding allegations of large-scale money laundering and fraud. In December 2022, Danske pleaded guilty to a US bank fraud charge and agreed to pay over $2 billion in fines and forfeiture. Stoller worked with lawyers from Sullivan & Cromwell to help the bank navigate the agreements, resolving allegations that the bank’s former Estonian branch neglected to implement proper anti-money laundering controls and transmitted some $200 billion worth of suspicious transactions.

Shearman has also been representing the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in criminal investigations by the government of the People’s Republic of China regarding alleged bribery and kickbacks by GSK employees in China. This case represents the first time a foreign company has faced criminal charges in China, with Shearman handling all aspects of related internal investigations, from document review to witness interviews.


Shearman’s investigations lawyers span the globe, and can be found in firm offices in New York, San Francisco, London, Brussels, Milan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, São Paulo and Washington, DC.


The firm has advised the likes of Danske Bank, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, UniCredit and Bank of America.

Track record

The firm has an extensive history of acting on major corporate investigations.

Shearman & Sterling successfully guided German engineering group Bilfinger through a five-year deferred prosecution agreement concerning FCPA violations in Nigeria. The monitor imposed on the company as part of the settlement was unhappy with Bilfinger's compliance efforts following the settlement, causing a period of uncertainty for the German business. In 2019, the DOJ dismissed the charges after the monitor gave the company a clean bill of health.

That same year, Shearman & Sterling helped UniCredit, alongside two other firms, on a $1.3 billion settlement with US authorities to resolve allegations that the bank and some of its subsidiaries violated US sanctions, including those imposed on Iran's state-owned shipping company.

Shearman & Sterling was hired in 2016 by Wells Fargo to conduct an independent investigation into the bank's retail banking practices, after it was revealed that employees had boosted sales figures by opening fee-charging accounts on behalf of unwitting customers. In April 2018, the bank announced it had settled investigations by the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for $1 billion.

The firm represented financial institution Citigroup in connection with an investigation into an alleged US$400 million fraud involving the bank's Mexican unit, Banamex. The firm settled the allegations with the DOJ for $97.4 million in May 2017.

Shearman has also represented Angolan state oil company Sonangol in a Dutch case against Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos. Sonangol asked a Dutch court that Dos Santos return a $500 million stake in Portuguese oil company Galp. Dos Santos, who has been accused of corruption and money laundering, has reportedly denied any wrongdoing.

As one of the first law firms to establish a presence in key global markets, Shearman & Sterling has led the way in serving clients wherever they do business for more than 140 years. From major financial centers to emerging markets, the firm has the reach, depth and global perspective necessary to advise clients on their most complex worldwide business needs. We are organized as a single, integrated partnership with more than 850 lawyers in more than 20 offices located throughout the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The firm’s lawyers come from some 60 countries and speak more than 60 languages.

Shearman & Sterling understands its clients’ needs, with an innovative spirit honed over its long history to find creative ways to anticipate and address their problems. Harnessing the intellectual strength and deep experience of its lawyers across the firm’s extensive global footprint, Shearman & Sterling represents many of the world’s leading corporations, financial institutions, emerging growth companies, governments and state-owned enterprises. Those clients continue to choose the firm for its distinctive ability to leverage the knowledge and judgment of one of the world’s largest and most accomplished cross-border legal teams – a team ideally situated to counsel clients in this challenging 21st-century global economy.


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