Kyl, Jones, Clifford Chance, Bracewell: Business of Law

Republican Whip Jon Kyl, the senator from Arizona who retired from Congress in January, is joining Covington & Burling LLP’s global public policy and government affairs practice.

“I gained a lot of experience from 26 years in Congress,” Kyl said in a phone interview. “For the firm’s clientele, having someone who understands how our government works should be beneficial.”

Kyl will be a senior adviser to the firm until his law license is reinstated, when he will become senior of counsel. He will advise companies on policies related to tax, health care, defense, national security and intellectual property, among other matters.

Kyle sat on the Senate Finance Committee, where he was the top Republican on the subcommittee on taxation and Internal Revenue Service oversight. He also served as the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on crime and terrorism, the firm said.

Covington has been expanding its public policy practice, notably with two hires last October. Dan Bryant, former senior vice president of global public policy and government affairs at PepsiCo Inc., joined in Washington as well as European public policy adviser Paul Adamson in Brussels.

“Senator Kyl will be a tremendous resource for our practice,” Bryant, who is chairman of the public policy practice, said in a statement. “Senator Kyl is widely respected on both sides of the aisle for his superb judgment, the breadth of his policy expertise, and his ability to forge win-win solutions on even the most complex and challenging issues.”

In addition to Bryant, Kyl will be working with Holly Fechner, vice chairwoman of the practice and longtime aide to former Senator Edward M. Kennedy and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Covington & Burling LLP has more than 800 lawyers at nine offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Jones Day Hires Clifford Chance India Corporate Co-Head

Jones Day has hired Sumesh Sawhney, formerly a Clifford Chance LLP India corporate practice co-head, in the London office.

“Sumesh brings with him years of experience in Indian cross-border M&A and related corporate matters,” John Phillips, partner-in-charge of Jones Day’s London office said in a statement. “He is an important addition to our growing representation of European and U.S. companies investing in India’s fast-growing economy.”

Sawhney’s practice concentrates on India-related mergers and acquisitions, formation of joint ventures, and cross-border investment. Among his clients are Bayer AG, Deere & Co., Maxis Communications Bhd, the Sun Group of the U.K., Volvo AB, and the Omzest Group, the firm said.

“Asian economies, particularly those in India and Southeast Asia, continue to grow, and our Singapore office continues its expansion as Jones Day’s hub for work with clients in this region,” Sushma Jobanputra, partner-in-charge of Jones Day’s Singapore office said in a statement.

Jones Day has more than 2,400 lawyers in 36 offices worldwide.


Swiss Lawyer Bodmer Sentenced to Time Served in Bribery Case

A Swiss lawyer who was the U.S. government’s star witness in the bribery case against Frederic Bourke, co-founder of handbag maker Dooney & Bourke Inc., was sentenced to time already served in a South Korean prison and ordered to pay a $500,000 fine.

Hans Bodmer, sentenced yesterday in Manhattan federal court a decade after his arrest in the international bribery scheme, was also ordered to make $131,906 in restitution. At a 2009 trial, Bodmer said he helped a Czech expatriate, Viktor Kozeny, orchestrate a plot in Azerbaijan in which Bourke invested.

“I made a bad decision 15 years ago,” Bodmer, who pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in 2004, told U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin today. “I have not run away. I have accepted the consequences.”

Bourke was convicted of conspiring to join a scheme to bribe leaders in Azerbaijan in a 1998 oil deal. The Justice Department points to the case as one of its top victories under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, an anti-bribery law.

Bourke has yet to serve his one-year prison sentence. He has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review his conviction, which a federal appeals court upheld in 2011.

After Bodmer was arrested in 2003 in South Korea, he was held in prison there and in New York before he agreed to cooperate with the U.S. government.

At Bourke’s trial, Bodmer testified that he helped Kozeny, promoter of an ultimately unsuccessful deal to take control of the Azeri national oil company, create secret Swiss accounts and offshore companies that would pay Azerbaijan’s leaders. He said he told Bourke about the plot in a conversation the morning of Feb. 6, 1998.

Bourke presented proof that he wasn’t in Azerbaijan at the time, and he has since argued that Bodmer lied on the witness stand. Prosecutors said Bodmer may have been mistaken about the date.

After agreeing to cooperate, Bodmer was allowed to return to Switzerland, where he practices law. In 2011, he was reappointed to the board of Hyposwiss Private Bank Zurich, a wealth manager. He left the company in November of that year.

The cases are U.S. v. Bourke, 11-cr-05390, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan), and U.S. v. Bodmer, 03-cr-00947, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Samsung’s $1 Billion Fight With Apple Spurs U.S. Lobbying Push

Samsung Electronics Co. has doubled mobile-phone sales in the U.S. since 2008. As the company faces anti-dumping measures and a protracted court battle with Apple Inc., its U.S. lobbying bill is growing even faster.

Samsung boosted spending on lobbyists to $900,000 last year from $150,000 in 2011 as it tries to influence the federal government on issues ranging from intellectual-property infringement to telecommunications infrastructure, regulatory filings show. The company also hired Sony Corp. veteran Joel Wiginton to run a new government-relations office in Washington.

The bulk of Samsung’s U.S. lobbying money last year, $760,000, went to the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, according to the filings. The firm also lobbied on behalf of AT&T Inc. and Lenovo Group Ltd., filings show. Akin Gump declined to comment.

The higher spending comes as the South Korean company is embroiled in patent disputes with Apple on four continents as the two struggle for dominance in an industry expected to double to $847 billion in sales by 2016. In a U.S. lawsuit, Apple was initially awarded $1 billion in damages after a jury decided Samsung copied the iPhone maker’s designs for mobile devices.

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Firm News

Clifford Chance Absorbs Saudi Lawyers Into Practice

Clifford Chance LLP will set up a mixed Saudi and foreign lawyer partnership, the first arrangement of its kind, after receiving permission from the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the firm announced yesterday.

The firm will integrate the corporate, finance and capital markets practices from Al-Jadaan, the firm’s long-standing co-operation partner in the Kingdom, while the litigation practice will remain a niche boutique under the Al-Jadaan name.

“The decision to establish our own entity in this way is very much a response to the growing Saudi-specific demands of our global and local clients, who have already reacted well to our increased investment in Saudi Arabia,” Graham Lovett, Clifford Chance regional managing partner for the Middle East, said in a statement. “The relationship with Al-Jadaan has been extremely successful and positive and it seemed natural to build our Saudi practice by taking our existing collaboration to the next level.”

Al-Jadaan partners Abdulaziz Al-Abduljabbar and Khalid Al-Abdulkareem at Al-Jadaan, will join Clifford Chance as partners. All Al-Jadaan associates in the firm’s transactional areas, along with some of the business services staff will also transfer to Clifford Chance.

Mohammed Al-Jadaan, along with Yousef Al-Jadaan and Abdullah Al-Hashim, will continue as partners with Al-Jadaan, which will focus on litigation and mediation, legal strategies and structuring activities in Saudi Arabia. Mohammed Al-Jadaan will remain managing partner of Al-Jadaan and will act as a special adviser and consultant to Clifford Chance in Saudi Arabia.

The split structure of the firm was greeted by the remaining Al-Jadaan boutique lawyers as a positive development.

“This ground-breaking move reconciles the ambitions of the Al-Jadaan partners with the long term needs of our clients,” Mohammed Al-Jadaan, managing partner of Al-Jadaan & Partners Law Firm said in a statement.

Clifford Chance intends to recruit and develop more Saudi associates in the office, as part of its continued growth strategy in the Middle East, the firm said.

Clifford Chance has 3,400 legal advisers at 35 offices in 25 countries.

Bracewell & Giuliani Hires Fox as Senior Partner in London

Bracewell & Giuliani LLP hired energy finance partner Jason Fox in London, where he will take on the role of senior partner. He joins the firm from Herbert Smith Freehills LLP.

Fox focuses on financing for the oil and gas industry. He has advised on more than 100 upstream oil and gas transactions as well as other financings in the energy arena, the firm said in a statement.

“I have known and worked with Jason for a number of years and I am certain our clients will benefit tremendously from his addition to the firm,” Bracewell managing partner Mark C. Evans said in a statement.

Fox is the third partner named to Bracewell’s London office this year. He, Julian Nichol and Alastair Young will serve as “a cornerstone” in the firm’s expansion of its global energy practice, the firm said.

Bracewell plans further growth in London with associates and partners in the energy sector or supporting it, the firm said. The London office’s primary focus is international finance, projects, mergers and acquisitions, and other transactional work, particularly for clients active in the energy sector.

Bracewell & Giuliani has 470 lawyers in 10 offices in the U.S., London and Dubai.


Madoff Trustee’s Merkin Money Claims ‘Absurd,’ New York Says

The trustee for Bernard Madoff’s bankrupt firm made “absurd” claims about money being withheld from the Ponzi scheme’s victims while fighting to stop a $410 million settlement, a lawyer for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

Trustee Irving Picard, a partner at Baker Hostetler LLP, said last month that the settlement, negotiated by Schneiderman with former Madoff investor J. Ezra Merkin, will allow Merkin to use money stolen from customers to help fend off Picard lawsuits demanding $500 million. A lawyer for Picard called Merkin’s $410 million agreement to compensate victims, sealed in federal court in Manhattan, “illusory.”

“That is absurd,” David Ellenhorn, a lawyer for Schneiderman, told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff yesterday in a court filing. While lawyers defending Merkin in other cases will be paid, and Schneiderman will recoup $5 million for three years of litigation against Merkin, most of the money will go to Ponzi victims, he said.

“All of the remaining settlement funds, out of the $410 million, will be used to compensate victims of Merkin’s wrongdoing,” Ellenhorn said. “Not one penny will revert to Merkin.”

Paying Merkin’s lawyers who are facilitating the settlement, which requires the former Madoff investor to give up $410 million of his personal assets, is “required, and appropriate,” Ellenhorn said.

Separately, Merkin said Picard is “extremely unlikely” to win his own lawsuit against Merkin and his funds. Rakoff shouldn’t allow the trustee to block the settlement because “in the unlikely event” that Picard does win part of his suit, Merkin’s funds would still be able to pay him, he said in a filing.

Both Merkin and the attorney general made additional filings in the case citing Picard’s “unusual” and “extraordinary” request for an injunction to give him time to build his own suit against Merkin.

The case is Picard v. Schneiderman, 12-cv-06733, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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