Elizabeth B. Sandza Senior Counsel




fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators - Elizabeth Sandza - Partner - Wilson ElserElizabeth Sandza counsels boards of directors of for-profit and nonprofit 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 Defense 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 served on the Advisory Board of the South Africa Washington International Program, an NGO that brings together promising young South African leaders of diverse backgrounds and exposes them to government and business in the United States. 

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. 

Government Investigations
Betsy has assisted clients in the insurance, reinsurance, government contracting, managed care and TPA businesses in designing and implementing best practices compliance and governance programs. She also has assisted them in 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. When necessary, she has defended such clients in state and federal court actions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, whistleblowers and state attorneys general. 

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, She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), a former Director of the North American Branch and Chair of the Washington, D.C. Chapter.

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.  

Nonprofit Corporations
Betsy has many years of experience representing boards of nonprofit corporations. She has formed nonprofits and wound them down. She also has served as secretary to the boards of nonprofits and as general counsel to nonprofits. In that role, she has advised nonprofit boards on employment matters, annual audits, program income, government regulation and reporting, litigation, contracting with vendors, government grant compliance, U.S. IRS tax reporting requirements and media issues. In addition, she has represented nonprofit boards in litigation with their contracting partners and others.

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.

Negotiated with the Department of Defense to lift a Bar Order against a computer network supplier and defended that vendor in federal court litigation brought by the Department of Justice.

Defended a GSA vendor against a Qui Tam action in federal court.

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 an equity 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.