Elizabeth B. Sandza Partner

     

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fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators - Elizabeth Sandza - Partner - Wilson ElserElizabeth Sandza counsels boards of directors of for-profit and non-profit corporations. A former Delaware Deputy Attorney General, she also has extensive experience representing corporate clients in government investigations and in complex business litigation. Betsy has defended her clients in class actions, fraud and RICO cases, antitrust matters and injunctive actions, as well as in high-value disputes with their business partners. She appears regularly in state and federal trial courts and before federal multidistrict panels and international arbitral tribunals, as well as in bankruptcy, liquidation and appellate courts. She chairs Wilson Elser’s Commercial Litigation practice and is co-chair of the firm’s Class Action practice.

Betsy is appreciated for her calm and practical approach to clients' problems, and even their alleged wrongdoing. With a career’s worth of experience defending clients against a wide variety of serious charges under the most complicated circumstances, she has the ability to see the big picture and understand the details, while allowing her clients to focus on their business.

Areas of Focus

International Corporate Work
In the international arena, Betsy serves as corporate secretary and general counsel to the board of directors of the Southern Africa Enterprise Development Fund, a $100 million equity fund created by the U.S. government that invests in small and medium-sized companies in eleven Sub-Saharan countries. In addition, she is a member of the Advisory Board of the South Africa Washington International Program.

Betsy regularly counsels U.S. corporations regarding exposures under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, regulations of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and international banking anti-terrorism and anti−money laundering regulations.  She also has served as counsel to U.S. advocates for foreign governments under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

In addition, Betsy advises U.S. companies doing business abroad on U.S. regulations applicable to foreign trade and transacting business. She succeeded in helping a U.S. film and television production company secure one of the first U.S. OFAC licenses to conduct business in Cuba after the U.S. normalized relations with that country. She also guided her client in obtaining an international FCC license and a Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security export license for high-tech equipment needed for its Cuba-based business.

Internal Investigations
Betsy has assisted clients in the insurance, reinsurance, managed care and TPA businesses in designing and implementing compliance and governance programs, conducting internal investigations and preparing comprehensive defense strategies in response to False Claim Act and fraud investigations by government regulators, state and federal prosecutors and civil litigants.

International Litigation
Betsy has tried international arbitrations before the London Court of International Arbitration, the American Arbitration Association, ARIAS and an arbitration panel of the National Construction Council of Tanzania.  She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and Chair of the Washington, D.C. Chapter.

Insurance-Reinsurance
For 20 years, Betsy has represented excess insurers in bad faith and major complex insurance coverage cases involving liabilities for mass product failures, toxic torts, environmental cleanup and asbestos injuries. In addition, she has represented reinsurers and cedents in reinsurance arbitrations before industry tribunals on issues of loss allocation, treaty interpretation and proper claims handling. Betsy frequently counsels insurance companies on market conduct and regulatory compliance, and she has defended insurance companies in investigations by state insurance regulators and attorneys general. She also was commissioned to write the current insurance code for the country of Uganda.

Representative Matters

Secured an order in an UNCITRAL arbitration before the London Court of International Arbitration allowing the majority shareholders to sell their $30 million company over the objection of the minority shareholder and won a judgment for over $900,000 in costs and fees of the action.

Led the defense of a managed care organization and TPA in a False Claims Act investigation and contract dispute with their government counterpart.

Succeeded in helping a U.S. client secure an OFAC license to do business in Cuba and a related FCC international license and a BIS export license for high-tech equipment.

Prevailed in proving that termination of a fund management company was for cause and, thus, defeated the managers’ $2 million claim for severance, in an American Arbitration Association (AAA) arbitration.

Defeated class certification in an action brought by video copyright infringers against a law firm that used Internet crawlers to protect the artist.

Obtained dismissal of two consumer class actions against an automobile financing company for sending thousands of allegedly noncompliant repossession notices to customers.

Assisted insurance and other companies in creating and implementing enhanced compliance and ethics programs in light of the amended U.S. sentencing guidelines and increased regulatory and legislative activity.

Succeeded in convincing a foreign bank to not close the account of a politically exposed person (PEP) due to international “Know Your Customer” treaty standards.

Sued a foreign bank and recovered $40,000 that the bank wired out of a client’s account on instructions from a hacker. 

Represented a major insurer defendant in the Insurance Brokerage Antitrust Litigation class action, and in parallel proceedings brought by 13 attorneys general against several insurers and major insurance brokers for price fixing.

Counseled insurance companies through internal investigations and in responding to subpoenas and government inquiries of finite risk insurance and reinsurance, contingent commission agreements, bid rigging, tying arrangements and other areas.

Litigated a corporate indemnity claim through the Delaware Chancery Court and twice up to the Delaware Supreme Court that established the three-year statute of limitations on officer and director indemnity claims and when the statute begins to run in the context of an abandoned SEC investigation.

Defended an excess insurance company in all of its coverage litigation with its policyholders over the past 20 years, in state and federal courts around the country, involving coverage for failed products, asbestos liabilities and environmental contamination.

Represented three Japanese reinsurance companies against their longtime managing general underwriter in a $2 billion accounting fraud case, in triple parallel proceedings in U.S. District Court, before a reinsurance arbitration tribunal and in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Represented a fiduciary trustee liability insurer against its managing general agent in injunctive proceedings in U.S. District Court to preserve a book of business that its agent was attempting to skim off to a competitor.