Akin Gump secures three-partner international trade team from Hughes Hubbard

Arrival of trio in Washington DC comes as rising geopolitical tensions fuel greater enforcement

(l-r): Roy Liu, Ryan Fayhee and Tyler Grove Images courtesy of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld has strengthened its international trade practice in Washington DC with the hire of a trio of partners from Hughes Hubbard & Reed. 

Ryan Fayhee, Roy Liu and Tyler Grove bring extensive experience advising clients on economic sanctions, export controls, anti-corruption and anti-money laundering compliance and investigations. 

They have joined Akin Gump against the background of a rise in sanctions enforcement efforts and export control investigations, said Jonathan Poling, Akin’s international trade practice head.

“This group recognises this reality and strengthens our ability to support clients engaged in trade globally, but also critically at the intersection of US and China relations,” he added.  

Fayhee was previously a senior prosecutor with the US Department of Justice (DOJ), where he handled cross border investigations and prosecutions relating to espionage, sanctions and embargoes, trade secret theft, cybercrime, corruption and money laundering. He also served In the National Security Division, most recently as the principal DOJ attorney overseeing sanctions and export control prosecutions nationally. 

After 11 years, Fayhee left the DOJ for Baker McKenzie in 2015 and in 2018 joined Hughes Hubbard, where he led the firm’s sanctions, export controls and anti-money-laundering practice group as well as being a member of its executive committee. 

He advises clients facing reputational risks and incident response, as well as on governance and compliance best practices, acquisition due diligence and national security reviews before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). He also maintains a Chambers-ranked trade sanctions practice and is currently representing former US marine Paul Whelan, who has been imprisoned in Russia since 2018 on espionage charges he denies. 

Fayhee said Akin was “the ideal place” for the trio to grow their practices. 

He added: “In addition to the firm’s existing depth in the international trade and government investigations groups, Akin’s lobbying and public policy and congressional investigations practices will enable us to provide clients with all of the advocacy and advice they require in complex, politically charged cross-border matters, something we are very eager to build on.”

Liu advises clients on economic sanctions, export controls, CFIUS and customs matters. He chaired the greater China practice at Hughes Hubbard and brings extensive experience advising Chinese companies involved in employment, IP and international trade disputes before US federal and state courts to Akin Gump. He also counsels US and Europe-based corporations on doing business in the Greater China region. He practised as a counsel at Hogan Lovells before joining Hughes Hubbard in 2019. 

Meantime, Grove, who became a Hughes Hubbard partner in January, advises clients on economic sanctions and international trade regulation and compliance. His practice focuses on complex internal investigations, enforcement and self-disclosures as well as emerging controls on semiconductors and high technology, foreign direct investment and CFIUS reviews.

Akin Gump’s chairperson, Kim Koopersmith, said the trio had built practices that “are ideally suited for today’s highly complex regulatory environment and create obvious synergies with our existing strengths across the firm, in particular with our sanctions and export control practice and government and congressional investigations team.”

She added that their track record in representing clients before government stakeholders on complex cross-border matters “highlights their strengths and enhances our capability to handle the most challenging matters our clients face. I am very pleased to welcome them to the firm.”

The trio’s strengths dovetail nicely with those of Akin Gump’s international trade team, which is noted by Chambers for its capabilities in customs, CFIUS, export controls and economic sanctions work. 

The practice houses around 85 mostly Washington DC-based lawyers. The team was bolstered in the city last summer with the arrival of leading export controls and sanction specialist Susan Kovarovics from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner and again last November with the hire of Laura Black from the US Department of the Treasury, where she was director of policy and international relations in the Office of Investment Security. 

Another firm to boost its international trade offering in Washington DC recently is Am Law 100 firm Blank Rome, which in May added a seven-strong team led by partners Joanne Osendarp and Eric Parnes from McDermott Will & Emery. 

Earlier this month Hughes Hubbard said that Paris-based partner Jan Dunin-Wasowicz would lead its sanctions, export controls and anti‑money laundering practice group alongside Sean Reilly, who is based in Washington DC. They will focus on EU and US sanctions respectively. 

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