White collar defense and global investigations

Enforcement and regulatory authorities around the world continue to increase their focus on the conduct of multinational businesses, wherever located, along with their executives and boards. Successfully managing the resulting risks requires a deep understanding of both the technical legal requirements and enforcement priorities across multiple jurisdictions.

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A&O Shearman’s market-leading white collar defense and global investigations practice takes a holistic, coordinated approach to navigating our clients through criminal, regulatory and internal investigations.

We have both local depth and global reach, and the majority of our work is cross-border. We bring a deep understanding of the laws of different jurisdictions and investigation practices across the globe, bolstered by the experience and insights from the more than 20 former prosecutors and regulators on our team. With lawyers on the ground in the U.S., the U.K., continental Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia-Pacific, our practice is built to handle the most complex matters. 

We solve our clients’ toughest problems across the full range of potential corporate violations and financial misconduct, representing both companies and individuals.

Full-service advice 

Our areas of expertise include anti-corruption, anti-bribery, anti-money laundering, securities, insider trading and other forms of market abuse, fraud (financial and tax), criminal antitrust violations, cartels, cyber incident response, sanctions, accounting fraud, non-financial misconduct such as bullying and harassment, ESG and human rights-related issues, and numerous other nuanced issues that can result in criminal or regulatory attention. We have extensive experience advising clients on key corporate crime regulations worldwide, including, for example, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the EU Whistleblowing Directive, the U.K. Bribery Act, and other equivalent laws impacting international businesses. 

We engage with the most active enforcement agencies and regulators on a daily basis, securing declinations, negotiating favorable resolutions, and delivering successful outcomes in related litigation.

Support across the investigations lifecycle

We have deep expertise throughout the investigation lifecycle, from risk assessments and compliance reviews to internal investigations, crisis management, liaison and negotiation with authorities, through trial of any related criminal or regulatory enforcement actions.

The quality of our practice is recognized by government regulators who have appointed our partners as independent monitors to conduct investigations in dozens of countries. We help our clients pre-emptively assess and address exposure, for example by conducting compliance reviews and due diligence exercises for M&A targets or possible joint venture partners. 

Distinctive cyber expertise

We also have distinctive cyber breach response expertise within our practice, with a dedicated team of specialists helping clients navigate all forms of cyber and data breach response. Our global cybersecurity and data protection practitioners are also well-versed in the complexities associated with data and movement of data in cross-border investigations and regularly engage with the relevant agencies on these issues. 

Our investigations lawyers work seamlessly with our other practice groups to offer clients best-in-class integrated services. With our leading global employment team, we help our clients assess and respond to whistleblower allegations in the most sensitive matters, from advising on the formation of policies and programs through to conducting full investigations of alleged misconduct, ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations while minimizing the operational and reputational impact on our clients’ businesses.

We have advised whistleblowers on the legal protections and incentives available to them. We also work closely with our financial regulatory team to advise clients about the implications of investigated conduct on clients’ regulatory obligations and relationships.

Representative matters

  • Danske Bank in investigations by DOJ, SEC, and Danish authorities arising from money laundering allegations involving its former Estonian branch, resulting in a $2 billion global settlement.  
  • McDonald’s in respect of a “public interest judicial agreement” (Convention Judiciaire d'Intérêt Public or “CJIP”) negotiated between McDonald’s and the French National Financial Prosecutor’s Office (Parquet National Financier or- “PNF”) terminating the investigation that the Prosecutor had launched.  
  • UniCredit S.p.A. in connection with a multi-year sanctions investigation and $1.3bn global settlement with multiple U.S. authorities, including obtaining from DOJ a declination to prosecute the parent entity.  
  • Independent directors of Wells Fargo & Company with respect to retail banking and brokerage sales practices and related matters, including as the interface with the U.S. Congress, DOJ, SEC and other U.S. and state regulators.  
  • HDR Global Trading (BitMEX), a global cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform, in criminal and regulatory matters in the United States, resulting in settlements with the CFTC and FinCEN.  
  • Citigroup in an investigation of an alleged $400 million fraud at the Citibanamex subsidiary in Mexico, including an internal investigation and representation of the company before the U.S. DOJ, SEC and other regulatory agencies as well as related civil litigation.  
  • A leading global cryptocurrency exchange platform in information requests from regulatory/law enforcement bodies across multiple jurisdictions, and co-ordinating the global strategy and approach to engaging with regulators and agencies.  
  • The world’s largest advertising group in an SEC FCPA investigation, involving conduct in India, Brazil, China, and Peru. The investigations related to potential controls and corruption violations.  

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