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Arbitration Center, Morgan Lewis, Latham: Business of Law

The New York International Arbitration Center will open its doors in late spring, the organization said in a statement. The center, founded with support from 33 law firms, aims to promote international arbitration in New York.

“I have watched the field of international dispute resolution flourish as our world has globalized,” the former chief judge of New York Court of Appeals, Judith S. Kaye, now of counsel at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and chairwoman of NYIAC, said in a statement. “Around the world there is open recognition of the desirability and importance of having arbitrations centered in your home city. With our new center added to an already impressive array of international arbitration resources, New York is truly the place to be.”

The center will be in the Socony-Mobil building on East 42nd Street, near Grand Central Terminal, Times Square, the Empire State Building and the United Nations.

The Center held a launch party Jan. 23 at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP for 250 people. NYIAC vice chairs Jim Carter of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP and Edna Sussman of Sussman ADR LLC were also in attendance, the organization said.

Proskauer, Chadbourne, Stanford Lawyer Accused of Aiding Fraud

A lawyer who worked for convicted financier R. Allen Stanford and two law firms that employed the attorney were sued by the receiver for Stanford’s business over claims they aided his Ponzi scheme.

The court-appointed receiver, Ralph Janvey, filed a complaint yesterday in federal court in Dallas. He accuses Thomas Sjoblom, the lawyer, and Proskauer Rose LLP, where Sjoblom was a partner from 2006 to 2009, and Chadbourne & Parke LLP, where Sjoblom was a partner from 2002 to 2006, of aiding and abetting Stanford’s fraudulent scheme.

Stanford, 62, was convicted in March of stealing more than $2 billion from depositors at his Antigua bank to finance a lavish personal lifestyle that included private jets, yachts and mansions. He is serving a 110-year term in a federal prison in Florida as he appeals his conviction and sentence.

Sjoblom, in the summer of 2005, joined a conspiracy at Houston-based Stanford Financial to obstruct a U.S. Securities Exchange Commission investigation into the Ponzi scheme, according to Janvey’s complaint.

“Sjoblom, who had 20 years of experience as a senior lawyer in the SEC’s Enforcement Division, spent the next four years delaying and obstructing the investigation by lying to the SEC,” Janvey said.

The receiver accuses the lawyer of falsely stating that he had personally confirmed Stanford Financial wasn’t a Ponzi scheme, instructing Stanford Financial to hide documents from the SEC, misrepresenting the existence and nature of the SEC’s investigation to Stanford Group Co.’s auditors, and offering false testimony to the SEC.

“Yesterday, the receiver and the committee of Stanford investors filed a copy-cat complaint against Proskauer to attempt to replace the procedurally improper lawsuit they filed last year,” Proskauer said in an e-mailed statement. “The claims asserted in the new action are identical to the ones in plaintiffs’ last complaint, and they continue to be meritless.”

Sjoblom didn’t respond to an e-mail yesterday seeking comment on the lawsuit.

“These are the same allegations that we’ve seen previously,” Chadbourne said in an e-mailed statement. “There is nothing new here. The claims asserted in this suit are without merit.”

The case is Janvey v. Proskauer, 13-00477, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

Bankruptcy

Morgan Lewis, Others Advise Apollo, Metropoulos on Hostess Bids

Hostess Brands Inc., the bankrupt maker of Wonder bread, chose a joint offer from Apollo Global Management LLC (APO) and C. Dean Metropoulos & Co. as the lead bid for Twinkies and other cake brands.

Apollo and Metropoulos offered as much as $410 million for the Hostess snack-cake business, which also includes CupCakes, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, and other assets, including five bakeries and equipment.

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP was Apollo’s legal counsel on the transaction. The Morgan Lewis deal team was led by business and finance partner Robert Robison. Additional partners include business and finance partner and bankruptcy and finance and restructuring head James Garrity Jr.; labor and employment partner Stanley Lechner; intellectual-property partner Ron Dreben; business and finance partner and leader of the environmental transactions practice Judith Walkoff; employee benefits and executive compensation partner Gary Rothstein; and antitrust partner Harry Robins.

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP partners Gregory Ezring and Brad Finkelstein served as Apollo’s finance counsel and partners Robert Hirsh and Carl Reisner counseled Metropoulos & Co. O’Melveny & Myers LLP partner Eric Rothenberg served as environmental counsel to Apollo on the transaction. Jones Day partners Robert Profusek and John Kane served as Hostess’s legal counsel, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“Interest in these iconic brands has been intense and competitive and we expect that to continue through a robust, court-authorized auction process,” Hostess Brands Chief Executive Officer Gregory F. Rayburn said Jan. 30 in a statement. “The stalking-horse bids have set a floor of more than $850 million for the bulk of the company’s assets.”

That total value for the company is almost double officials’ 2011 estimate of $450 million mentioned at a Nov. 29 court hearing. It’s lower than an estimate of about $1 billion given by financial adviser Joshua Scherer of Perella Weinberg Partners LP at another hearing that month. He said interest from 110 potential buyers was “fast and furious.”

Hostess seeks U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval for a March 13 auction. Leon Black’s Apollo, based in New York, managed $109.7 billion in assets as of Sept. 30. Metropoulos, based in Greenwich, Connecticut, is the private-equity firm that owns Pabst Brewing Co.

The case is In re Hostess Brands Inc., 12-22052, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (White Plains). The prior bankruptcy was In re Interstate Bakeries Corp., 04-45814, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Missouri (Kansas City).

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Moves

DLA Piper International Arbitration Partner Joins Latham

Latham & Watkins LLP hired Claudia T. Salomon, former co- chairwoman of DLA Piper LLP’s international arbitration practice, as a litigation partner in the firm’s New York office.

Salomon has two decades of experience in complex international disputes, particularly in investor treaty arbitration and international commercial arbitration cases, the firm said.

“Claudia is a well-respected lawyer in the international arbitration community,” Jimmy Brandt, Latham & Watkins’s office managing partner in New York, said in a statement. “Her reputation and significant experience will be invaluable to our accomplished New York litigation capability and our clients.”

Latham & Watkins has about 2,000 attorneys in 31 U.S. and international offices.

Labaton Sucharow Antitrust Group Moves to Robins Kaplan

Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP hired a team of antitrust lawyers from Labaton Sucharow LLP. Hollis Salzman and Kellie Lerner joined as partners and Bernard Persky as of counsel in the New York office.

All previously were with Labaton, where Salzman was managing chairman and Persky was the co-chairman and founder of that firm’s antitrust and competition litigation practice.

Salzman will serve as co-chairwoman of Robins, Kaplan’s antitrust and trade regulation practice group.

“The addition of this group of outstanding antitrust lawyers is integral to our strategy for continuing to build one of the most prominent antitrust practices in the country, and we are excited about the growth we are experiencing in our practice,” K. Craig Wildfang, co-chairman of the firm’s antitrust and trade regulation practice group, said in a statement.

Salzman has particular experience in prosecuting antitrust violations against the health-care industry and international cartelists. Her past work includes representation on In re Air Cargo Shipping Services Antitrust Litigation, which ended with almost $500 million in partial settlements from certain defendants, the firm said. She also was involved in In re Lorazepam & Clorazepate Antitrust Litigation, which resulted in a $135.4 million settlement, according to the firm.

Lerner represents businesses and governmental entities in high stakes antitrust actions. She was a member of the trial team handling In re Abbott Laboratories (ABT) Norvir Antitrust Litigation, which challenged Abbott’s price increase for an HIV medication, the firm said.

Among Persky’s notable cases is County of Suffolk v. Long Island Lighting Company. He was co-lead trial counsel on the case, which resulted in the Second Circuit upholding a $400 million class settlement, the firm said.

Robins Kaplan is a litigation firm that represents both plaintiffs and defendants. The firm has more than 250 lawyers in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York and Naples, Florida.

Nelson Mullins Hires Massachusetts Senator Jack Hart

Jack Hart, the assistant majority leader of the Massachusetts Senate, will join Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP’s Boston office along with his chief of staff, Jennifer Jackson.

Hart joins the government-relations practice at Nelson Mullins and will assist the firm in expanding its state Capitol practice in Massachusetts.

Hart spent 16 years as a member of the Legislature. He was involved in master planning of the South Boston Waterfront and co-authored legislation to build the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, the firm said.

Nelson Mullins has more than 470 attorneys and government relations professionals at 13 U.S. offices.

Government Relations Partner Joins Baker Botts in Washington

Jeffrey W. Munk joined Baker Botts LLP as a partner in the firm’s Washington office, after spending 16 years at Hogan Lovells LLP in Washington.

“Jeff will be a central part of the growth and further development of our government relations practice, where he will have primary responsibility for congressional affairs,” Baker Botts managing partner Andrew M. Baker said in a statement.

Munk designed and led major lobbying campaigns for international businesses, trade associations and nonprofits, and represented clients on legislative issues during his legal career, the firm said. He has successfully developed and managed complex legal and lobbying initiatives in tax, energy and transportation policy.

Baker Botts has more than 725 lawyers at 14 offices world- wide.

Firm News

Singapore’s Rajah & Tann Plans Law Offices for Cambodia, Myanmar

Rajah & Tann LLP, Southeast Asia’s largest law firm, with 355 lawyers, will open offices in Cambodia and Myanmar as Singapore further liberalizes its legal services market.

“We’re foreseeing a future in Singapore where the competition will get worse,” Patrick Ang, deputy managing partner at Rajah & Tann, said yesterday in an interview. “What we’re doing now is not for immediate returns but for the future.”

The Cambodian office will open today and Myanmar on March 1, boosting the Singapore firm’s lawyers to 370, Ang said.

Rajah & Tann’s regional expansion comes as Singapore’s economic growth slows and competition intensifies with a rising number of foreign lawyers in the city state. Myanmar’s moves to reform its economy, which the International Monetary Authority estimates will expand 6.3 percent this fiscal year, have lured investors and private equity funds.

Singapore’s economy grew 1.2 percent in 2012, less than a quarter of 2011’s pace, and may expand as little as 1 percent this year. Cambodia’s economy may expand 6.7 percent this year, the IMF said.

Rajah & Tann has offices in China, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, and is the largest Southeast Asian firm, according to a ranking by The American Lawyer.

The number of foreign lawyers registered in Singapore has more than doubled from 630 in 2007, according to figures from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, which also regulates foreign lawyers.

Shadmand Named Partner-in-Charge of Jones Day Dubai Office

Jones Day named Sheila Shadmand partner-in-charge of the Dubai office. Shadmand succeeds Arman Galledari, who has become the head of Jones Day’s new projects and infrastructure practice.

Shadmand, who has been the office’s administrative partner since its opening in 2009, led the firm’s global disputes practice in the Middle East. She represents multinational companies in commercial disputes and regulatory compliance issues, the firm said.

She also advises international companies on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, UAE anti-money laundering regulations, U.S. and EU sanctions programs, and other regulatory issues.

“Sheila has distinguished herself as a leader in both the Dubai Office and in the firm’s Global Disputes Practice in the Middle East,” Mary Ellen Powers, Europe and Middle East partner-in-charge for Jones Day, said in a statement.

Jones Day has 2,400 lawyers at 37 offices throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Litigation

Validity of U.S. Consumer Bureau at Stake in Law Firm Challenge

A law firm sued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over its treatment of struggling homeowners may be the first to contest the validity of Richard Cordray’s status as the agency’s director after a federal court’s ruling on presidential appointees.

Gary Kurtz, a lawyer representing the Gordon Law Firm of Los Angeles, said he sent a Jan. 29 letter to the bureau asking for a negotiated settlement of the six-month-old case in light of a federal court ruling that invalidated so-called recess appointments similar to Cordray’s.

“I want to give them an opportunity to resolve this without court intervention,” Kurtz said in a telephone interview. “Resolving this informally would preferable.”

Absent a settlement with Gordon, the bureau risks a court challenge that could become a test case for its authority in the wake of recess-appointment ruling. In its July 17 complaint against the firm, the CFPB said Gordon took up-front fees to help homeowners facing foreclosure, then did “little or nothing” for them.

CFPB spokeswoman Moira Vahey said the agency “is moving forward with the case as planned.”

The CFPB, created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that overhauled U.S. oversight of financial services, is intended to protect consumers from abusive practices. Covering banks like JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and non-bank firms such as payday lenders and debt collectors, the agency has also created a system for resolving consumer complaints.

Gordon’s demand for a settlement stems from a Jan. 25 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington that President Barack Obama’s use of a procedure known as a recess appointment to install three officials at the National Labor Relations Board on Jan. 4, 2012 was unconstitutional.

Since Cordray was made head of CFPB on that same day by the same process, a company affected by the CFPB could use the legal principle in that case to try to upend Cordray’s appointment and roll back his actions. On Jan. 24, Obama renominated Cordray for the full five-year term as head of CFPB.

Since the Jan. 25 court decision lawyers for companies in the financial services industry have pondered how to handle inquiries from CFPB supervisors, who examine books of banks and non-bank firms on a daily basis. For now, many lawyers are advising companies to treat CFPB examiners as though nothing has changed, said Richard Gottlieb, an attorney with Dykema Gosset PLLC in Chicago.

The CFPB charged Gordon’s firm violated the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services rule, which was issued by the Federal Trade Commission in 2010 and subsequently taken over by the CFPB. The rule bans businesses from collecting fees until homeowners have acceptable written offers of a loan modification from their lenders.

Gordon’s firm, according to the CFPB’s July 17 complaint, sought to evade this prohibition since at least early 2010 by selling documents that aim to detail a lender’s misdeeds, and then offering free legal services to obtain a loan modification.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Amon in Brooklyn, New York, at eamon2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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