John F. Walsh
Claudio D. Salas
Special Counsel[email protected]
Virginia Del Pozo
Special Counsel[email protected]
Areas of FocusExpand All Collapse All
Latin America Antitrust and CompetitionOur internationally recognized team secures antitrust clearance for complex mergers and joint ventures, helps clients navigate cartel investigations, and resolves private and government litigation. Working seamlessly with local co-counsel and across our offices in the United States and European Union, our team—which regularly conducts business in Spanish—coordinates merger review involving Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and other Latin American countries. We have also represented clients based in Latin America in cartel proceedings involving the United States and European Union. Many of our lawyers have served in high levels of government in the United States or Europe, and our team has versatile industry knowledge, having represented clients in biopharma and life sciences, transportation, shipping, energy, communications, and many other industries.
Latin America FCPA and Anti-CorruptionWilmerHale is regularly recognized as a leader in FCPA investigations, with market commentators noting in Chambers Global that the firm is “phenomenal in the FCPA space” and a “big player in international investigations.” Our team has handled scores of notable FCPA and anti-corruption matters across Latin America, including many in Mexico and Brazil. We advise companies facing high-stakes government inquiries, conducting internal investigations, and seeking anti-corruption risk assessments, M&A guidance, ad hoc compliance counseling, and counseling on other FCPA-related issues. With a deep bench of Spanish speakers, cultural insight from living and working extensively in the region, and a broad network of local service providers, we nimbly and efficiently navigate all aspects of investigations in Latin America.
Latin America International ArbitrationOur team has successfully represented clients in many of the largest institutional arbitrations and several of the most significant ad hoc arbitrations of the past decade, and we pride ourselves on consistently achieving clients’ objectives through efficient staffing and the use of in-house know-how and precedents. Our experience extends to complex proceedings involving the laws of Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and other countries across Latin America, and spans industries including energy, pharmaceuticals, financial services, communications and aerospace.
Latin America InvestigationsWe have the breadth of experience, deep regional connections, and outstanding team—including many fluent Spanish speakers who have lived and worked in the region—to immediately and effectively advise clients facing investigations into business practices and related enforcement actions in the region. The liability stemming from such actions can be costly for corporate and individual clients, and navigating these complex matters requires dynamic, sophisticated counsel who understand the countries, business communities and regulators involved. As an internationally recognized leader in the investigations space, clients can trust us to help them respond to enforcement actions, mitigate risk and reputational damage, and, if needed, aggressively litigate against allegations of wrongdoing.
Latin America LitigationIn Latin America and around the world, clients rely on our globally renowned litigation experience, our strong understanding of their industries and business goals, our pragmatic and clear advice—especially in the midst of complicated challenges, complex legal and regulatory changes, and high-stakes crises and decisions—and our ability to deliver litigation victories, favorable settlements, and other practical solutions to complex problems. Our team has played an integral role in many of the most significant cases in Latin America over the past several years, including those involving internal and governmental investigations; regulatory, governmental and public policy disputes; FCPA and anti-corruption litigation; contract disputes and commercial litigation; expropriations in violation of international law; and investor-state disputes. Recognized around the world for their strategic judgment, courtroom skills, and ability to achieve extraordinary results, our litigators have won numerous awards, including The American Lawyer’s 2020 Law Firm of the Year award and finalist spots in its 2021 and 2018 Litigation Department of the Year contests.
Latin America Regulatory and Compliance CounselingWith many members who have served at high levels in the DOJ, the SEC, as well asother regulatory bodies, our team offers clients great insight into the regulatory frameworks that shape their industries. We also have an alumni network of contacts in high-level government roles who focus on Latin America. Drawing on deep experience interpreting complex regulatory requirements and developing strategies for compliance, we help companies, including those in industries facing particularly intense government scrutiny, navigate rapidly changing international regulations and guidance. We also regularly counsel companies on anti-corruption compliance issues, including designing, implementing, and enhancing compliance programs; risk assessments; third-party due diligence; M&A diligence; trainings; and benchmarking.
Latin America Trade, Investment and Market AccessCompanies doing business in Latin America face significant impacts from government policies that directly limit market access, impose non-transparent or unreasonably burdensome government regulations, treat investments unfairly, fail to protect or enforce intellectual property, or subsidize domestic competitors. At the same time, they face substantial compliance obligations under their domestic laws, such as restrictions on technology exports and economic sanctions. With members of our team who have served in highly relevant government positions—including at high levels in the US Department of Commerce and the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR)—we are well positioned to advise on this complicated landscape.
Latin America TransactionalOur corporate lawyers bring their comprehensive services to companies doing business in Latin America and negotiating cross-border transactions. US and international founders and companies rely on our advice in entity formation; venture capital; equity and debt financings and related transactions; mergers and acquisitions; restructuring; and corporate governance matters. We also represent investors based around the world in a range of financing and investment transactions. Our team has executed deals involving leading Latin America–based companies and investors in a broad array of industries, including tech, financial services, real estate, automotive and e-commerce, and it includes lawyers who represent some of the select few people in the US who Latin America–based founders and advisors consistently rely upon for managing their venture capital financings and related early-stage company restructure transactions.
ANTITRUST AND COMPETITION
- Assisted Uber Technologies with the merger review of Uber’s acquisition of a majority stake in Cornershop, the grocery delivery platform, in Chile and Mexico, among other jurisdictions.
- Advised Danaher Corporation in connection with the global merger review of the $20 billion acquisition of GE Healthcare’s Biopharma business, including Brazil.
- Advised Baker Hughes in connection with the global merger review of the $32 billion combination with GE Oil & Gas in Brazil and elsewhere in Latin America, and previously regarding Halliburton's proposed $34.6 billion acquisition of Baker Hughes.
- Advised a Chilean company in merger review and antitrust compliance matters.
- Represented a Chilean company in a cartel investigation in the US and the EU and in subsequent settlement proceedings.
- Represented a Mexican company in EU cartel proceedings.
- Advised multinational communications company WPP in a public FCPA resolution for $19M, involving conduct in Brazil and Peru.
- Represented Latam Airlines (formerly LAN) in its FCPA investigation and settlements with the DOJ and SEC.
- Advised a multinational commodity trading and natural resources company in a significant and ongoing multinational investigation of bribery, corruption, money laundering and market manipulation relating to the company’s business in several countries, including Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela; also handled the client’s parallel civil class action lawsuits.
- Conducted an internal investigation on behalf of a US manufacturing company with operations in Mexico in response to a whistleblower complaint regarding alleged improper payments.
- Represented Key Energy in an SEC settlement and DOJ declination related to alleged conduct in Mexico, including advising on anti-corruption compliance policies, procedures and training.
- Represented a multinational software company in the Mexico portion of an FCPA case that was settled with the DOJ and SEC.
- Represented a major multinational company in a DOJ and SEC investigation of alleged FCPA violations in Brazil and Colombia, which was closed when both agencies declined to bring charges.
- Represented a multinational tech company in a confidential internal investigation into allegations of improper conduct in Brazil.
- Represented a major media and communications company in connection with the successful resolution of the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York's investigation into its Argentine joint venture's role in the FIFA corruption scandal
- Represented three different global financial services corporations in investigations by the SEC and/or DOJ, including the first-ever FCPA case based on the theory of hiring relatives of government officials, as well as an additional settlement with the SEC for one of the other banks and a declination by the SEC for the other.
- Conducted an internal investigation into potential FCPA violations of a gold and silver producer operating in Mexico.
- Represented oil driller Helmerich & Payne in its FCPA investigation and settlements with the DOJ and SEC related to Argentina and Venezuela.
- Represented a global airline and its US subsidiary in DOJ FCPA settlements relating to improper payments to government officials in Mexico and Panama.
- Represented a global pharmaceutical company in an internal investigation of potential improper payments in Mexico.
- Obtained a major victory for a multinational plant and equipment supplier in an ICC arbitration dispute valued at $150 million, arising from a delayed hydro-power project in Peru.
- Obtained a $44 million award for a US pharmaceutical company in connection with an investment arbitration against Ecuador.
- Obtained a very favorable settlement for a global private equity firm in two parallel $600 million ICC arbitrations seated in Brazil, arising from the acquisition of a Brazilian technology firm.
- Settled an ICDR arbitration for a Latin American airline in a $30 million dispute against a manufacturer relating to claims of breach of duties of good faith under Brazilian law.
- Settled an arbitration for a leading Uruguayan industrial conglomerate in a $21 million post-M&A dispute relating to hydro power plants.
- Advised a US oil field services company in a recently settled $37 million arbitration in Argentina.
- For a software company, served as lead investigation counsel—coordinating a team of internal counsel and local counsel—in an investigation in Brazil; the SEC ultimately informed the company that it did not plan to take enforcement action.
- Advised a large tech company with offices in Latin America in connection with a confidential investigation in Argentina and Uruguay.
- Advising a multinational corporation in a sensitive internal investigation relating to its Mexico business.
- Representing a US-based mining company in an internal investigation arising from the theft of minerals from a mine site in Peru.
- Representing of the Pan American Health Organization in Rodriguez v. Pan American Health Organization (US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and US District Court for the District of Columbia), a case brought by Cuban doctors who allege they were victims of human trafficking and torture as part of a Brazilian public health program, the largest of its kind ever administered by a UN agency.
- Representing of US oil and gas drilling company Helmerich & Payne in Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Company v. Republic of Venezuela (US Supreme Court, US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, and US District Court for the District of Columbia), a case involving claims for the taking of property in violation of international law under the expropriation exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
- Representing UK hedge fund Altana Wealth in Altana Credit Opportunities Fund SPC et al. v. Republic of Venezuela (US District Court for the Southern District of New York), a case involving claims for breaches of contract arising from defaulted Venezuelan bonds under the waiver and commercial activities exceptions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
- Representing a US public company against the Republic of Cuba for takings in violation of international law and potentially against unnamed defendants trafficking in the expropriated property in violation of the Helms-Burton Act.
- Representing a former cabinet official of the government of Argentina before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in a case involving false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and violations of due process and other fundamental rights.
- Represented a European company in federal court in Miami in defending against a frivolous lawsuit brought pursuant to the Helms-Burton Act for alleged “trafficking” of property in Cuba.
- Represented a senior executive of a global oil trading company in connection with potential FCPA charges by DOJ involving hundreds of millions of dollars of contracts in Ecuador; Ecuadoran, UK and Swiss authorities also are investigating.
REGULATORY AND COMPLIANCE COUNSELING
- Advised multiple clients, including Precision Castparts, Panasonic and Kohler, among others, during the COVID-19 pandemic on regulatory compliance with COVID-19 restrictions in Mexico.
- Advised the LatAm regional team of a US media company in a complicated deal diligence project involving Argentina and Mexico.
- Advised a large tech company on compliance matters in Peru.
- Advised a large tech company in connection with a confidential matter in Mexico.
TRADE, INVESTMENT AND MARKET ACCESS
- Advised clients in cutting-edge WTO disputes, such as European Communities and Certain Member States – Measures Affecting Trade in Large Civil Aircraft, Argentina – Measures Affecting the Importation of Goods, and Brazil – Certain Measures Concerning Taxation and Charges.
- Advising a US-based financial services company on implementation of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and related market access issues in Mexico.
- Advising a major US-based energy company on a range of trade-related challenges in Mexico and other jurisdictions in Latin America.
- Advised a US-based technology company with respect to Bolivia’s treatment of its goods under the WTO Customs Valuation Agreement.
- Advised a US-based financial services company regarding Colombia’s measures impacting the insurance sector.
- Advised a US-based manufacturer on import license issues in Argentina.
- In US government service:
- Represented the United States in WTO disputes, including Mexico – Definitive Anti-Dumping Measures on Beef and Rice and Argentina – Definitive Safeguard Measure on Imports of Preserved Peaches.
- Frequently advised the USTR on Latin America-related issues as the agency’s lead attorney and/or negotiator with respect to safeguards, services, financial services, investment, state-owned enterprises and competition.
- Served as the lead US negotiator for the investment chapter of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
- Served as the overall lead US attorney in the US-Chile Free Trade Agreement negotiations.
- Served as the lead US negotiator for suspension agreements with Mexican parties concerning fresh tomatoes and sugar.
- Advised Mexican real estate company TrueHome in its acquisition by Brazilian proptech unicorn Loft.
- Advised General Catalyst in its role as lead investor in a $700M Series E round of funding for Kavak, the foremost company in the pre-owned car market in Latin America.
- Co-represented Brazilian logistics company Kangu in its acquisition by Mercado Libre, Latin America’s leading e-commerce and financial services technology company.
- Represented Wolox, a leading Argentinean cloud native and agile development company, in its acquisition by Accenture.
- Latinvex ranked WilmerHale on its 2022 list of top international law firms in Latin America, both in the overall category and for arbitration; corporate/M&A; and FCPA, Fraud & Investigations.
- Latinvex named Caroline Geist-Benitez, a member of WilmerHale’s Investigations and Criminal Litigation Practice, a Rising Legal Star in 2021. The publication recognized 25 lawyers whose practices have made a mark in Latin America.
- Litigation Daily named a WilmerHale team Litigator of the Week Runners-Up in 2022 for obtaining the dismissal of the last of three actions in Puerto Rico’s Commonwealth Court against the team’s 12 financial institution clients.