Law360 names Venable a FCPA Powerhouse

3 min

Law360 touts “stunning” victories and “first-class compliance and investigations work”

On June 6, 2013 Law360 profiled Venable’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Anti-Corruption Practice Group as part of its “FCPA Powerhouse” series. The profile touted the group’s recent victories and “stunning reversals for clients who had seemingly lost battles against bribery charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act” and praised the group for its “first-class compliance and investigations work.”

Co-Managing partner and practice co-chair Lindsay Meyer said, “Venable formed a distinct FCPA and anti-corruption practice group in 2005, just as the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ramped up enforcement of the 1977 statute.” Many in the group cite former U.S. Attorney General and Venable’s past Chair Ben Civiletti as a mentor.

Speaking about the advantages of a national FCPA practice, partner and practice co-chair Widge Devaney told Law360, “Instead of staffing investigations with lawyers in far-flung offices, the partners and other professionals in the FCPA practice group have the flexibility to work with local anti-corruption experts with proven track records and, frequently, with whom we have partnered in the past.” He added that group can tap other firm attorneys experienced in pharmaceutical, maritime and transportation, financial services, and logistics fields among others. “We recognize that, in advising companies on compliance issues, one size doesn't fit all,” Devaney said. “You have to be able to bring the full tool kit to bear to help the client prevent and detect problems, and when necessary, to solve them in an effective and economical manner.”

Practice co-chair Jan Handzlik spoke about the landmark victory on behalf of Lindsey Manufacturing in which he and Crowell & Moring’s Janet Levine represented the company and its top executives. “We saw from the inside how the FBI and DOJ's FCPA unit put their case together and then struggled to prove some basic elements of the offense,” Handzlik said. “The government's problems were compounded by the difficulties we all had in obtaining evidence from foreign countries.” According to Handzlik, the DOJ was used to resolving FCPA cases through guilty verdicts and was unprepared for a trial on short notice. He added that the DOJ’s “expansive interpretation of the act exposed ambiguities in the statute that have not been definitively addressed by appellate courts, including the meaning of 'foreign official' and 'instrumentality' of a foreign government.”

Partner Damon Wright spoke about the group’s victory on behalf of Daniel Alvirez, one of 22 executives accused of bribing officials in Gabon. After two trials, one ending in acquittal and the other in mistrial, the government agreed to vacate Alvirez's guilty plea and indictment. “It was in many ways conceived and kind of drawn up like a screenplay by the cooperating witness, Richard Bistrong,” said Wright.

Praising the group’s recent victories, partner and Litigation Division chair Geoff Garinther said, “When the chips were down, I don't think there is another firm that has been able to turn around FCPA prosecutions quite the way we did in those cases.”