Clifford Chance is celebrating what it considers to be a significant breakthrough in the profile of its US litigation practice, with the appointment of partner Wendy Wysong as special compliance officer (SCO) for military contractor Xe Services.
The appointment, known as a monitorship, is seen as significant because the client, formerly known as Blackwater, is so high-profile.
“It effectively gives us the US state department ‘seal of approval’,” said one Clifford Chance partner.
On 18 August 2010, Xe agreed to pay $42m to settle charges that it committed 288 violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations while providing services in support of US government programmes and military operations abroad between 2003 and 2009.
Xe appointed Wysong as the external SCO for three years as part of its continuing remedial measures.
As a Clifford Chance partner, Wysong will be independent of Xe and report her findings directly to the US Department of State.
“These monitorships are much sought after appointments,” said Clifford Chance’s global head of litigation Jeremy Sandelson. “We beat some very big names to get this.”
Sandelson added that the appointment would give Clifford Chance more credibility and precedent for being appointed as monitors in other cases, such as major Foreign Corrupt Practices Act corruption cases.