Leading FCPA Prosecutor Fry Wernick Joins V&E as Partner
Ephraim “Fry” Wernick, former Assistant Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Unit and a veteran federal prosecutor, has joined Vinson & Elkins as a partner in the firm’s Government Investigations and White Collar Criminal Defense practice.
Based in V&E’s Washington, D.C. office, Wernick’s practice will leverage his experience leading complex international investigations and prosecutions of multinational corporations, banks, and individuals for violations of the FCPA, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), Anti-Money Laundering (AML) statutes, sanctions laws, International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), and other financial crimes and regulations.
Wernick is the most recent of several additions to V&E’s Government Investigations and White Collar Criminal Defense practice. In Washington, D.C., he joins partners Ron Tenpas, who served as Assistant Attorney General for DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, and Mike Dry, the former Deputy Chief of the Eastern District of Virginia’s Criminal Division. Wernick’s colleagues also include Jennifer Freel, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas, who recently joined as a counsel in the firm’s Austin office.
“As the newest member of V&E’s nationally recognized Government Investigations and White Collar Criminal Defense practice, Fry brings to the firm more than a decade of experience as a leading fraud and corruption prosecutor,” said V&E Chairman Mark Kelly. “Having directed some of the DOJ’s most significant and complex white collar prosecutions and investigations, he is a strong complement to our growing and robust practice.”
Wernick began his career as a federal prosecutor in 2008 in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney for over six years, Wernick was the lead prosecutor in over 30 criminal trials, and he served several years in the Fraud and Public Corruption Section, where he prosecuted dozens of cases, including what is believed to be the largest campaign finance case in U.S. history.
In 2014, Wernick joined DOJ Criminal Fraud’s elite FCPA Unit, and he was soon promoted to Assistant Chief and tasked with supervising international investigations and coordinating prosecutions across multiple foreign jurisdictions, including large investigations in the energy, sports, aerospace, telecom and financial services sectors. During his tenure, Wernick led and oversaw four of the six largest-ever corporate FCPA resolutions in addition to dozens of individual prosecutions, including the following cases:
- a $965 million coordinated global resolution between DOJ, the SEC, the Netherlands, and Sweden with Telia Company AB, a Swedish telecom company that admitted to paying over $330 million in bribes in Uzbekistan;
- a $880 million coordinated global resolution between DOJ, the U.K. Serious Fraud Office, and Brazil with Rolls-Royce plc, a multinational power systems manufacturer, including seven individual charges, in connection with their conspiracy to pay and launder over $80 million in bribes in six different countries;
- a $850 million criminal resolution between DOJ and the SEC with Mobile Telesystems PJSC, a Russian telecommunications company that paid over $420 million in bribes in Uzbekistan;
- a $835 million coordinated global resolution between DOJ, the SEC, and the Netherlands with VimpelCom Ltd., a Dutch telecom company that paid over $114 million in bribes in Uzbekistan;
- a national security counter-intelligence investigation and prosecution of a Russian official, a U.S. company, and an American executive for conspiring to pay and launder over $2 million in bribes to transport nuclear fuel between the Russian Federation and the United States; and
- a multi-billion dollar FCPA and money laundering investigation, including criminal charges against two senior bankers and an intermediary.
Wernick maintained a Top Secret clearance and his national security experience also included a one-year detail to DOJ’s Guantanamo Bay Litigation Team, where he investigated and litigated cases on behalf of the U.S. against prisoners of war and high value detainees connected to the Taliban, al-Qaida and associated groups, and he was the lead trial attorney in the case against the highest-ranking member of the Taliban in U.S. custody.
Wernick also has experience as a policy advisor and congressional investigator. In 2017, Wernick was selected to serve a detail as Counsel to the Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, where he advised the Judiciary Committee on proposed legislation addressing a range of criminal justice and national security matters.
Before joining DOJ, Wernick also served as Counsel on the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), where he was the lead investigative attorney concerning abusive debt practices, ineffective oversight of dual use exports, and waste, fraud and abuse at the United Nations Development Programme.
“V&E has a top-flight reputation and a clear vision for its growing white collar and FCPA practice, making it a natural fit for me,” said Wernick. “I am excited to join the firm and its deep bench of talented attorneys in the white collar and investigations practice, and I cannot wait to start the next chapter of my career with V&E.”
Wernick was an associate with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP from 2005 to 2008 and with Strasburger & Price, LLP from 2003 to 2005. He graduated with honors from the University of Texas School of Law in 2003 and earned his undergraduate degree from Brown University in 1999.
“Fry is an exceptional trial attorney whose talent and DOJ insight will serve to benefit the firm and its clients,” said Craig Seebald, managing partner of V&E’s Washington, D.C. office. “We are pleased to welcome him to V&E.”
V&E’s Government Investigations and White Collar Criminal Defense practice is among the world’s best, receiving recognition nationally and internationally in Chambers USA (2019), Legal 500 U.S. (2019) and as a member of the Global Investigations Review 100 (2018). The firm represents corporations, audit committees, boards, and executives in high stakes investigations and litigation, including matters involving criminal and civil antitrust investigations, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the False Claims Act, securities, health care, and criminal and civil theft of trade secrets.
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