Cross-Border Investigations and Compliance REGULATORY AND GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS

Our well-established investigations, litigation, regulatory, corporate and labor law practices often help resolve delicate matters that typically arise as a consequence of compliance issues.

WilmerHale is a leading law firm for cross-border and internal investigations and compliance advice. We focus on anticorruption, antifraud, antitrust, data privacy/protection, health care, labor law, and employment and manufacturing compliance issues, and we do so domestically, internationally and across borders.

While conducting business in today’s global economy, many companies are faced with navigating complex cross-border issues and compliance and regulatory requirements. We assist clients in addressing issues in connection with their operations in the EU, United States and other countries, including interactions with and investigations by EU and US regulators. Our European and US practices have been involved in some of the biggest and most challenging compliance projects and investigations.


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Jonas, Stephen A.

Stephen A. Jonas

Co-Chair, Investigations and Criminal Litigation Practice Group

+1 617 526 6144 (t)

Crones, Christian

Dr. Christian Crones

Partner-in-Charge, Frankfurt Office

+49 69 27 10 78 207 (t)

Pollard, Stephen

Stephen Pollard


+44 (0)20 7872 1006 (t)

Zhou, Kenneth

Kenneth Zhou


+86 10 5901 6588 (t)


Our compliance experience covers all relevant areas, with a primary focus on anticorruption, antifraud, antitrust and data privacy issues. And in addressing matters that typically arise as a consequence of compliance issues, our well-established investigations, litigation, regulatory, corporate and labor law practices are equipped to help find a resolution.

We have assisted clients in building and improving their compliance organizations. We help clients in the setup of their internal regulatory framework, for example, by drafting a code of conduct or internal guidelines. We also have designed and conducted training programs at all levels, from distribution and marketing to management.

We assist clients when serious compliance issues occur. In many cases it becomes necessary to investigate potential breaches of company policy or law; terminate responsible employees or managers; represent clients who have damages claims against third parties, including D&O insurers; or represent clients being sued by third parties.

Often, compliance issues are driven by regulatory bodies and public prosecutors. We have longstanding experience in representing clients before major German public prosecutors' offices (such as Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich), tax authorities, and regulatory bodies such as the German banking regulatory authority (BaFin). We also assist companies in Europe in their interactions with US drug and medical device regulators, and in navigating these companies' anticorruption programs and investigations. Recently, we assisted EU-based companies with issues relating to US regulators who have been exercising their extraterritorial powers with regard to manufacturing compliance issues in the drug and medical device areas.

In the UK, we represent clients before the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and in the United States we represent many publicly listed companies, financial services providers and investment companies in investigations and proceedings before the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).


Some examples of our investigations work include:

  • Representing a global banking and financial services organization in Switzerland, Monaco, Hong Kong and Singapore in connection with allegations of US tax fraud.
  • Heading a multi-jurisdictional legal and accounting team in connection with the SEC’s accounting and control investigation of an international retailer’s European operations in Holland, Belgium, Scandinavia, Poland, Czech Republic and Spain.
  • Investigating civil and criminal liability of former members of management boards of one of Europe’s leading truck manufacturers and transport-related engineering groups and its affiliates; completing compliance review of its foreign subsidiaries.
  • Reviewing a German multinational automotive corporation’s group-wide compliance systems with regard to Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-bribery issues under the relevant anti-bribery legislations.
  • Investigating the foreign sales operations of a German subsidiary of a US multinational company with regard to payments to agents and consultants in Eastern Europe, Russia and other Commonwealth of Independent States countries.
  • Investigating allegations that employees of a German multinational company providing transportation services were aware of cartel agreements between suppliers, and did not take measures to stop such agreements.
  • Conducting an investigation at the request of a large European telecommunications group to determine if critical strategic decisions concerning the group’s positioning in the telecommunications and Internet markets were made in violation of German corporate regulations.
  • Investigating a possible board leak of a strategic merger plan which, as a result of the leak, had to be abandoned; the investigation covered the company concerned and legal and investment banking advisors.
  • Completing an internal investigation for a European energy company into alleged irregularities concerning the consolidation of group companies.
  • Leading an investigation of French money laundering issues for a large US insurance company, involving US, French, Belgian and Luxembourg criminal and insurance regulatory and tax issues, and providing strategic advice on defense and compliance issues.
  • Completing two internal investigations into allegations of unauthorized trading and other compliance violations by employees of a UK-based bank.
  • Conducting an internal investigation for a major UK financial services firm relating to policies and procedures to identify accounts held by undisclosed principals; included review of firm’s implementation of the British Banker Association’s Non-Investments Products Code. Also worked closely with lawyers in our Washington DC office to respond to related inquiries from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
  • Conducting various internal investigations and responses to regulators (in the UK and US) on behalf of leading investment banks during regulatory investigations into practices of “market timing” in the trading of mutual funds.
  • Representing a leading investment bank relating to the conduct of its UK and Japanese operations.
  • Conducting an internal investigation of UK and European subsidiaries of a US telecommunications company following whistleblower allegations of revenue recognition issues and fraud.
  • Representing numerous US multinational companies and European companies in connection with allegations of improper payments to individuals in Western Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia.

Compliance Advice

Some examples of our compliance advice include:

  • Providing compliance advice to a German multinational car manufacturer regarding its dealer and distribution network.
  • Counseling a biotech company in the Netherlands on the creation of a compliance program to govern the marketing of its products in the United States.
  • Working with three of the world’s leading telecommunications equipment manufacturers to create a “compliance alliance” focusing on anticorruption measures of their third-party relations.
  • Providing Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and anticorruption advice and training, including preparation of relevant training materials, in Belgium, Germany, the UK, Austria, Italy, Poland, China, India, Singapore, Thailand and Sierra Leone.
  • Completing a compliance review for an MDAX-listed leading real estate company in relation to compliance organization and anticorruption laws.
  • Advising a German logistics company on German international anticorruption laws.
  • Providing compliance advice to a US private equity fund with regard to potential compliance issues of an M&A transaction in Germany.
  • Providing compliance advice to a German-Danish shipping company with regard to drafting and implementing code of conduct and gifts policies, and setup of a compliance organization.
  • Providing compliance advice to the management board of a German outdoor advertisement joint venture company of a US private equity fund and its German joint venture partner.
  • Conducting training on the UK Bribery Act for a DAX 30 company.

Publications & News


June 8, 2017

Cross-Border Data Flows Security Assessments in China

China has issued for public comment draft standard-like guidelines to govern cross-border data flows to further implement China's heightened concern over national security and cybersecurity, as embodied in the National Security Law (2015), Cybersecurity Law (effective June 1, 2017) and related laws and regulations.

May 26, 2017

WilmerHale Lawyers and Practices Recognized in 2017 Edition of Chambers USA

Chambers and Partners announced its rankings for the 2017 edition of Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, with WilmerHale listed among the nation's best in 50 practice area categories. Chambers also ranked 86 WilmerHale lawyers as leaders in their respective fields.

December 6, 2016

The Legal 500 Germany Recognizes WilmerHale Lawyers and Practices in 2017 Edition

The Legal 500 has released its 2017 edition of The Legal 500 Deutschland, Germany's guide to outstanding lawyers, recognizing WilmerHale in five categories.

May 27, 2016

WilmerHale Lawyers and Practices Recognized in 2016 Edition of Chambers USA

Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business announced its final rankings for the 2016 edition, with WilmerHale ranking among the nation's best in 47 practice area categories. Chambers also ranked 82 WilmerHale lawyers as leaders in their respective fields.

April 26, 2016

Chambers Europe 2016 Recognizes WilmerHale Lawyers and Practices

Twelve WilmerHale lawyers and five firm practices have been recognized in the 2016 edition of Chambers Europe: Leading Lawyers for Business.

March 12, 2015

WilmerHale Lawyers, Practices Recognized in 2015 Edition of Chambers Global

Thirty-one WilmerHale lawyers are named among "The World's Leading Lawyers for Business" in the 2015 edition of Chambers Global. In addition to these individual accolades, the firm is recognized in 17 practice areas that span six different regions.

November 13, 2014

EU Litigation Practice Obtains Successful Cartel Conduct Ruling

WilmerHale’s EU litigation practice earned a successful victory on November 12, 2014, for clients Guardian Industries and Guardian Europe (Guardian) in a court ruling that granted a notable reduction in cartel conduct fines.

September 2, 2014

Update on German Anti-Corruption Legislation and Procedure

On 1 September 2014, an important amendment to German anti-corruption legislation has entered into force.

May 22, 2014

Eleventh Circuit Adopts Broad Definition of Government "Instrumentality" Under FCPA

On May 16, 2014, the Eleventh Circuit, in the first appellate decision on the issue, affirmed a broad definition of “instrumentality” of a foreign government within the meaning of the FCPA, providing important guidance in determining who should be considered a "foreign official" under the statute.

May 21, 2014

UK: Updated BBA Anti-Bribery and Corruption Guidance Launched

On 6 May 2014, The British Bankers’ Association published its updated Anti-Bribery and Corruption Guidance (“the Guidance”). When first published in December 2011, the Guidance provided advice to the banking industry on the establishment and implementation of adequate policies and procedures required to meet the legal and regulatory requirements arising from the UK Bribery Act 2010. The Guidance has now been expanded to incorporate additional regulatory expectations, focusing primarily on those of the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”).