GRR 100 2021

Sequor Law

Sequor Law

Professional notice

The Miami boutique remains one of the most active firms on Chapter 15 cases in the US, from both Latin America and further afield

Global heads of restructuring and insolvencyGregory Grossman, Leyza Blanco
Partners in restructuring team5
Active cross-border restructuring and insolvency matters44

History of the practice

Shareholders Edward Davis and Gregory Grossman launched boutique Sequor Law in April 2017, in what was effectively a rebrand of Miami firm Astigarraga Davis’s cross-border insolvency, international asset recovery and financial fraud team. Davis and Grossman  decided to establish the new outfit when their former firm’s international arbitration practice left to join global law firm Reed Smith.

The firm kept all of the cross-border insolvency attorneys from Astigarraga Davis, then filled out its roster in 2018 with the addition of partners Leyza Blanco and Fernando Menendez, both native Spanish speakers. Blanco is the current chair of the International Women’s Restructuring and Insolvency Confederation and was recently invited to be a Fellow of the American College of Bankruptcy

The firm holds a niche spot in the cross-border insolvency market, applying a multi-disciplinary approach to use cross-border insolvencies as an asset recovery tool. Who's Who Legal lists Davis and partner Arnoldo Lacayo as experts in asset recovery.

Network

Grossman and Blanco co-head the restructuring and insolvency practice, which operates out of the firm’s office in Miami.

Who uses it?

It primarily represents liquidators, insolvency practitioners and victims of fraud, including international banks, sovereign governments and government institutions, lenders and multinational corporations, as well as individuals.

Notable clients include Big Four professional services firm PwC and Grant Thornton.

Historic track record

The practice, under Astigarraga Davis and Sequor Law, has made a name for itself filing Chapter 15s in Florida to recognise insolvency proceedings in diverse jurisdictions, including Antigua, Austria, Barbados, Brazil, the BVI, the Cayman Islands, Chile, Mexico, Romania and the UK. Indeed, Grossman says it has filed more Chapter 15s in Florida – and likely in the whole US – than any other law firm.

Notably, Davis and Grossman filed the first-ever Chapter 15 bankruptcy petition in the state of Florida in 2006 on behalf of PwC as the custodian of failed financial institution Bancafe International Barbados.

The firm also filed what it believes was the first Chapter 15 where the foreign process for recognition was an administrative process and not a court proceeding, in the Banco Cruzeiro do Sul liquidation carried out by Brazil’s Central Bank in 2014; the first to secure recognition of an “extension” order that expanded a Brazilian bankruptcy beyond an initial debtor the same year in Petroforte Brasileiro de Petroleo; the first to file a Chapter 15 case to recognise Romanian proceedings, in Banca Turco Romana in 2017; and the first to apply for Chapter 15 recognition of Chilean proceedings in the cases of Onix Capital and Alberto Chang Rajii.  

Davis served as lead civil counsel for the government of Antigua and Barbuda in relation to an alleged fraud in the payment of debt owed to a Japanese lender, which sponsored the building of the Crabbs Desalination and Power Plant in northeast Antigua.

Elsewhere, the team has been instructed as co-counsel to represent the joint liquidators of Stanford International Bank in efforts to recover assets relating to a US$7 billion Ponzi scheme – the second largest in US history. So far, the firm has helped to recover US$3.2 million from Panama and US$20 million from the UK; frozen real estate thought to be worth more than US$200 million in Antigua and Barbuda and sold a US$4.5 million building in Antigua; released US$40 million from Switzerland; and prosecuted a liability claim against a bank in Canada seeking US$5.4 billion. It has also managed to perfect claims for around US$330 million in assets frozen in Canada, Switzerland and the UK at the request of the US Department of Justice; and it is currently assisting with further asset recovery litigation in Antigua and Colombia.

Recent events

During 2020, Sequor saw the departure of lawyer Bruno de Camargo, who left firm to pursue other practice areas. Meanwhile, of counsel Andrew Dawson became the first to hold a new bankruptcy chair donated to the University of Miami by the Southern District of Florida bankruptcy court’s Chief Judge Emeritus Jay Cristol. The judge, a University of Miami School of Law alumnus himself, created the bankruptcy chair in 2016 to recognise faculty members for achievements in bankruptcy law.

Top cases of the research period

Sequor has been busy during the research period, with Blanco continuing her representation of Osana Mendonca of KMPG as the judicial administrator of industrial group Schahin, which is undergoing a judicial liquidation. The firm obtained Chapter 15 recognition of Schahin’s Brazilian liquidation proceedings and assisted the administrator in investigating assets and transfers undertaken by the group. Meanwhile, a UK court recognised the Brazilian insolvency of dissolved English subsidiary Deep Black Drilling under the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations, even though it was dissolved in September 2017, six months before it became subject to the Brazilian bankruptcy order.

Blanco also obtained Chapter 15 recognition in Florida of a Brazilian bankruptcy proceeding involving more than US$100 million in debt owned by transportation company Viação Itapemirim and its affiliates. Sequor is conducting discovery to obtain proof of alleged wrongdoing by the company’s debtors, principals and ultimate beneficial owners to be used in Brazilian court proceedings, while also identifying US assets and funds that can be repatriated to Brazil and bringing forth potential claims for them.

Sequor has also continued to represent the Brazilian judicial administrator of copper manufacturer SAM Industrias, whose administration has also been extended to its parent, Boulder Participações. Grossman supported the judicial administrator in connection with various investigations into the companies’ affairs in the BVI and the Cayman Islands, as well as on Chapter 15 recognition of the Brazilian proceedings in the US.

During the research period, Sequor obtained Chapter 15 recognition of the Brazilian liquidation proceedings of three entities that are part of industrial automation group SMAR. The firm is tasked with recovering assets in the US, as well as locating and coordinating the recovery of potential assets in Mexico, Switzerland and Singapore.

And of course, the firm is still acting as lead US counsel to the liquidator of Onix Capital and its CEO Alberto Chang Rajii in the largest insolvency proceedings in Chile’s history. Sequor successfully obtained US recognition of the proceedings and the liquidator as foreign representative, and the team is now engaged in discovery in the US and other jurisdictions.  

Outside of Latin American Chapter 15s, Arnoldo Locayo and now-departed Camargo successfully obtained recognition in Miami for the court-appointed bankruptcy administrator of bankrupt Luxembourg-registered aviation company Aircraft Solutions.

Blanco and associate Daniel Coyle also represented the liquidator of Ukrainian bank PJSC Bank Finance and Credit, which is facing over US$1 billion in creditor claims, in its Chapter 15 proceedings, successfully obtaining recognition of the Ukrainian liquidation, with the bank’s liquidator succeeding in having the proceedings recognised in the UK as well.

Finally, Blanco is also representing the foreign representatives of the bankruptcy estate of British jeweller Darren McCormick, securing US recognition and a freezing order not only on McCormick but on his US company as well. Following the recognition, the firm has been assisting with the realisation of the enjoined property and secured an agreement with McCormick’s ex-wife and her company to return five real properties in the US and funds contained in a bank account.

Client references

Guerra González Abogados partner Alfonso Peniche in Mexico says he worked alongside Sequor on the restructuring of a large Latin American hotel chain, Cozumel Caribe and its affiliate Grupo Costamex. He says there was strong opposition in Mexico and the US to the restructuring, but they “consistently succeed… thanks to Sequor Law”.

“I have thirty years of experience in Bankruptcy Law and without a doubt the best lawyers I have worked with in the USA are Greg Grossman and Cristina Vicens Beard,” Peniche says. “They were always prepared and dedicated a lot of time to plan further strategy.”

He highlights the fact that Sequor has a multilingual team that understands the Latin American law system perfectly and knows the flaws and advantages, which is difficult to find in US law firms. “Essentially they are hard workers, with good preparation and impeccable ethics, so we plan to go back to Sequor Law in the future,” Peniche notes.

The liquidator of Stanford International Bank, Grant Thornton partner Mark McDonald in the British Virgin Islands, says that Sequor assisted in numerous legal aspects of the case, including in significant value litigation claims he is pursuing in Toronto, the US, the UK and Switzerland. “I rate Sequor extremely highly in the field of cross-border insolvency, litigation, fraud and asset recovery matters,” McDonald says.

“Their team are highly committed to getting results, they are transparent and very reasonable in their approach to fees – and indeed better value than a lot of their competitors in this regard – as well as being flexible in their fee structures so as to align their interests with their clients.”

McDonald says that Davis and Grossman “are both very impressive litigators, exceptional in their fields, genuinely good people and great to work with,” while also highlighting Vicens and Lacayo as “very impressive lawyers who are great to work with”.

About Sequor Law

Founded in 2000, the boutique Miami based firm is known for its representation of non-US office holders in Chapter 15 bankruptcies, representation of domestic and international creditors (including governments, government instrumentalities, and state-owned enterprises) in all aspects of fraud and corruption matters, insolvency, commercial litigation, and judgment enforcement and related actions, including multi-jurisdictional investigations and disputes. The firm filed the first Chapter 15 case in Florida and filed more than 50 Chapter 15 cases; likely more than any other firm in the United States.

The firm holds a niche spot in the cross-border insolvency market, applying a multi-disciplinary approach to use cross-border insolvencies as an asset recovery tool. As a result of the focused concentration of its practice, the firm has an experienced team of practitioners in all fields related to international litigation, with particular experience and knowledge of the doctrines and issues involved in cross-border disputes throughout the world.  From its founding, one of Sequor Law’s primary areas of practice, in addition to (and as a critical component of) its asset recovery practice, was cross-border insolvency and restructuring, co-chaired by Gregory S. Grossman and Leyza F. Blanco. 

The hands-on team at Sequor Law, is deeply vested in our clients. Our attorneys are multiple award-winning thought leaders, sought after by top-tier media. They bring high level experience from powerhouse firms and have represented Fortune 50 firms, government entities, global banks, and large foreign corporations. With access to a global network, Sequor Law provides a strong partner who does whatever it takes to secure success.

The Sequor Law team has appeared before every bankruptcy court in Florida, in addition to Florida state and federal district courts and have also had representations in multiple jurisdictions throughout the United States.  Sequor Law employs four Florida Bar board certified attorneys in International Litigation and Arbitration, more than any other single firm in the state of Florida.

Recent Awards and Industry Recognition: Firm-wide:

Sequor Law is regularly recognized nationally and internationally for our extensive experience and global network within the industry. The following reflect some awards and distinctions Sequor Law and its attorneys are honored to have received ratings from:

  • Rated by Martindale-Hubbell with the highest possible rating in both Legal Ability & Ethical Standards 2021 AV Preeminent Rating
    • Founding Shareholder Edward H. Davis, Jr.
  • 2021 Chambers & Partners USA Bankruptcy Litigation Band 2
    • Sequor Law, Founding Shareholder Gregory S. Grossman, Shareholder Leyza Blanco
  • 2021 Chambers & Partners USA Bankruptcy/Restructuring Band 2
    • Shareholder Leyza Blanco
  • 2020 Chambers and Partners USA for ranking in the Litigation Support Guide, Global-Wide Asset Tracing & Recovery Category  
    • Sequor Law, Founding Shareholder Edward H. Davis, Jr.
  • WWL Thought Leaders Global Elite – Asset Recovery 2020, 2021
    • Founding Shareholder Edward H. Davis, Jr.. Shareholder Arnoldo B. Lacayo
  • 2021 WWL Expert Asset Recovery (since 2018)
    • Founding Shareholder Edward H. Davis, Jr.
  • 2021 Latinvex Top Latin American Law Firms Ranked #3 in Litigation (since 2018 for four consecutive years)
    • Sequor Law
  • 2018-2021 Latinvex Latin America’s Top 100 Lawyers
    • Founding Shareholder Edward H. Davis, Jr.
  • 2020, 2021, 2022 Best Lawyers in America
    • Founding Shareholders Edward H. Davis, Jr., Gregory S. Grossman, Shareholders Leyza Blanco and Fernando Menendez, Jr.
  • 2020 Lawdragon 500 Leading US Bankruptcy and Restructuring Lawyers
    • Founding Shareholders Edward H. Davis, Jr., Gregory S. Grossman, Shareholders Leyza Blanco and Arnoldo Lacayo
  • 2020 Lawdragon 500 Leading Global Restructuring and Insolvency Lawyers
    • Founding Shareholders Edward H. Davis, Jr., Gregory S. Grossman, Shareholders Leyza Blanco and Arnoldo Lacayo
  • 2021 Super Lawyers
    • Founding Shareholder Edward H. Davis Jr. (since 2006)
    • Founding Shareholder Gregory S. Grossman (since 2006)
    • Shareholder Leyza Blanco (since 2010)
    • Shareholder Arnoldo B. Lacayo (since 2018) Top 50 Women Florida Super Lawyers (since 2013)

Website: www.sequorlaw.com

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