WilmerHale has been shortlisted as a finalist for the following categories in Global Competition Review’s (GCR) 2021 Awards:
- Litigation of the Year – Cartel Defense: Creative, strategic and innovative litigation on behalf of a defendant in a private action for cartel damages.
Mexican Government Bonds Antitrust Litigation
A group of 10 banks successfully fended off claims in December 2020 that they conspired to manipulate the market for Mexican government bonds when Judge Paul Oetken of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the complaint for a second time. Relying on a statistical analysis of prices and spreads in the Mexican government bond market, along with public information about an antitrust probe by Mexico’s Federal Economic Competition Commission, a group of pension funds had accused the banks of price-fixing and collusion. The plaintiffs had alleged that they were overcharged when they bought Mexican government bonds from the banks and underpaid when they sold the bonds. Judge Oetken originally granted a motion to dismiss in September 2019 but allowed the plaintiffs to amend their complaint. On 1 December 2020, Judge Oetken dismissed the amended complaint in full for a lack of personal jurisdiction.
US v. Richard et al.
Richard Usher and Rohan Ramchandani defeated the first-ever contested antitrust claim brought by a US banking authority – the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which sits within the US Department of the Treasury. A jury before Judge Richard Berman of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York previously acquitted the two UK-based currency traders in October 2018 for allegedly conspiring to manipulate the US dollar and euro exchange market. The US Department of Justice’s antitrust division had accused them of coordinating bids. On the same day that the competition watchdog filed charges, the OCC brought a follow-on case against Ramchandani and Usher, seeking their disbarment from trading and a pair of US$5 million fines. Following full briefing on a motion to dismiss, Treasury Department administrative law judge Jennifer Whang “expressed skepticism… there was ‘some force’ to the argument that the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission are better equipped to ‘navigate what can be an extremely complex and economics-driven area of the law’”. The OCC dropped its Sherman Act charges in August 2020.
- Behavioral matter of the year – Americas: Creative, strategic and innovative work carried out in a non-merger matter before an enforcer in the Americas.
DOJ’s Investigation into Carmaker’s emissions
The US Department of Justice’s antitrust division opened a probe into Ford, Honda, BMW and Volkswagen in the summer of 2019. It alleged that a voluntary agreement between the automakers and the state of California to meet stricter emissions and fuel-efficiency standards than those set by the federal government violated the Sherman Act. The DOJ indicated it was investigating the automakers shortly after President Trump tweeted his criticism of the agreement, prompting Antitrust Division attorney-turned-whistle-blower John Elias to claim that the probe was politically motivated. In February 2020, the Antitrust Division quietly closed its investigation after counsel to the companies convinced the agency that they had independently entered into the agreement with the state and that their discussions did not violate antitrust rules. The case is expected to form the basis of a rulemaking by the Biden Administration.
As a part of the process, GCR invites readers to vote for the cases, law firms, lawyers and enforcers they believe excelled in 2020. Voting for this year’s GCR awards nominees will take place until March 5, 2021.
In 2020, Law360 recognized WilmerHale as Competition Group of the Year.