A former Department of Justice official has joined Paul Hastings as a partner in the firm's global compliance and disputes practice.
Nathaniel Edmonds was formerly an assistant chief in the fraud section, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit of DOJ's Criminal Division before joining the firm.
During his decade-long tenure at DOJ, Edmonds prosecuted BAE Systems, which pleaded guilty to making false statements about its FCPA compliance program and for conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms regulations. The company was ordered to pay a $400 million criminal fine, the third-largest FCPA penalty in DOJ history. Edmonds was also involved in the investigation of Pfizer H.C.P. Corp., which was resolved in August after the subsidiary of Pfizer Inc. agreed to pay a $15 million penalty to resolve an FCPA investigation.
Edmonds was one of the prosecutors in the trial of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He also investigated lobbyists and public officials on charges of bribery and making false statements. The investigations ultimately resulted in 21 convictions.
Now that he's made the move to private practice, Edmonds said his practice would focus on three areas: compliance counseling; investigations; and disclosure, negotiation and litigation. Edmonds said that FCPA investigations and enforcement has increased in recent years and that the practice would likely continue to be robust for attorneys.
"The World Bank estimates that there is a trillion dollars of corruption every year," Edmonds said. "When corruption enters into a transaction, the entire value of the transaction can be lost."
While the U.S. has been leading the charge on the enforcement and compliance front, other countries are following suit. The U.K. and countries like Germany, Canada, Switzerland and Norway have embraced anti-corruption laws and enforcement. Edmonds pointed to China, Russia and Indonesia as countries in which corruption problems persist. He also warned about mineral exports from Africa and about doing business in Central and Latin America.
"The U.S. government has worked very hard to level the playing field for U.S. businesses," Edmonds said. "Companies operating overseas have to be aware that there are risks in almost every region and industry. I think that it is a robust practice, but it will continue to be and increase significantly over the coming years."
Paul Hastings had about 100 attorneys in its Washington office at the end of 2011, according to the most recent Legal Times 150 survey.
This article first appeared on The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.