Brigida Benitez solves challenging problems that stem from business disputes, employment relationships, and compliance matters. With a focus on complex litigation, internal investigations, and global anti-corruption issues, she has represented a wide range of clients, including financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, information technology enterprises, universities, sports franchises, and international development firms. She litigates high-profile cases in federal and state trial and appellate courts throughout the United States, including the US Supreme Court. Brigida draws on 25 years of experience representing clients in high-stakes, complex litigation and arbitration matters, along with a deep understanding of the multijurisdictional investigative process, to help companies and individuals assess and mitigate reputational and litigation risk.
Brigida conducts internal investigations and investigations before enforcement agencies relating to a variety of sensitive and business-critical issues, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), financial fraud and corruption, employee misconduct, ethics, codes of conduct violations, accounting irregularities, whistleblower complaints, and sanctions procedures of the World Bank and other international financial institutions. Brigida served as Chief of the Office of Institutional Integrity of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), heading the independent office responsible for investigation potential fraud and corruption in IDB-financed activities, and implementing compliance policies and procedures relating to anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, offshore financial centers, and sanctions laws and regulations administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). As a member of the senior management team, she reported to the IDB president and the Audit Committee of the Board of Executive Directors. She worked to develop the General Principles and Guidelines for Sanctions and oversaw the implementation of the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions, entered into by the IDB, the World Bank, and several other leading international financial institutions. Her work encompassed 26 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Brigida is a past president of the DC Bar, the second largest unified bar in the country, with more than 100,000 members worldwide. She currently serves as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where she teaches a course on international business litigation and federal practice. She has been recognized by Hispanic Business magazine as a "Woman of the Year" and one of the "100 most influential US Hispanics," and by Latino Leaders magazine as one of the "25 Most Influential Hispanic Lawyers."
- District of Columbia
- Supreme Court of the United States
- Various Federal Circuit and District Courts
- J.D., Boston College Law School, 1993, cum laude; Editor-in-Chief, Boston College Law Review
- B.S., University of Florida, 1990, High Honors
Areas of Practice
- Served as counsel for high-level former and current officials of the Internal Revenue Service sued in their individual capacity in four federal district court cases by various Tea Party groups alleging constitutional violations in connection with the processing of their applications for tax-exempt status. All four cases were resolved successfully on motions to dismiss.
- Served as counsel for ThinkFoodGroup, an entity co-founded by renowned chef José Andrés, in breach of contract case involving restaurant at Trump International Hotel in the Old Post Office in Washington, DC. Case resolved through settlement.
- Second-chaired argument on behalf of the University of Michigan before the US Supreme Court in two cases challenging the legality of its admissions policies, which resulted in a victory for diversity in higher education. Handled case for six years, from federal district court to US Supreme Court.
- Served as lead counsel for $120 million private equity fund in lawsuit involving claims of fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duties. Successfully argued against application of arbitration agreement before North Carolina Supreme Court. Case resolved through favorable settlement.
- Served as counsel for audit firm in enforcement and debarment proceeding involving allegations of fraud before World Bank Sanctions Board.
- Served as counsel for international information technology company in highly complex and technical breach of contract dispute. Successfully arbitrated before a tribunal of the International Chamber of Commerce in Geneva, Switzerland.
- Served as counsel for leading development finance institution in arbitration involving allegations of government expropriation and claims for payment under insurance contract. Conducted all facets of hearing, including opening statement, closing argument and witness examinations. Obtained successful verdict before American Arbitration Association tribunal.
- Served as counsel for international development consulting firm in sanctions proceedings initiated by the World Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency (INT), which investigated and charged the firm with corruption in connection with a World Bank-funded project. Sanctions and Debarment Officer of the World Bank recommended a six-year public debarment. Conducted investigation, advised client, and argued case to World Bank Sanctions Board, which dismissed case and terminated sanctions proceedings. This is a significant and rare victory, as the Sanctions Board has terminated proceedings against respondents in only four other cases since 2012.
- Conducted internal investigation for Mexican subsidiary of one of the largest banking institutions in the world regarding FCPA and related fraud issues.
- Led multiple teams conducting internal investigations of a multinational corporation’s operating companies in South America (i.e., Argentina, Brazil and Chile) involving alleged violations of the FCPA.
- Conducted internal investigation for international financial institution relating to employee misconduct and ethics issues.
- Conducted internal investigation for large research institution in connection with claims of employee misconduct.
- Conducted internal investigation for private equity fund involving claims of fraud and embezzlement against prior management.
- Conducted internal evaluation of admissions practices for large university and recommended revisions to existing policies.
Moderator, "What to Do If Your Third Parties Are Under Suspicion: How Multinationals are Tackling More Regional Enforcement, Scandals and Legislation," ACI's 35th International Conference on the FCPA, Oxon Hill, MD, November 28, 2018
"Global Cyber Security and Data Privacy - A Look at GDPR, Managing an International Privacy Program and Cross-Border Data Transfers," ABA Business Law Section Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, September 14, 2018
Moderator, "Fellows at the Top: A Conversation with Current and Former Presidents of Diversity Organizations," 7th Annual LCLD Fellows Alumni Leadership Symposium, Los Angeles, CA, June 22, 2018
"International Regulation and its Impact in Chile – Corruption, Anti-Money Laundering and Fraud," Santiago, Chile, April, 2018
"Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorist Financing, Anti-Financial Crime US and Global Developments Update 2018," ABA Business Law Section Spring Meeting, Orlando, FL, April, 2018
"Deconstructing the Myth of 'Machismo': Latin America's Leadership in Gender Equality," ABA Section of International Law Fall Meeting, Miami, FL, October 27, 2017
Moderator, "'Brexiting' the UK Bribery Act and Trumping Up the FCPA: A Review of Current Administrations' Effects on Anti-Corruption Laws," ABA Business Law Section Meeting, Chicago, IL, September 14, 2017
"Anti-Money Laundering Developments for Money Managers," ABA Business Law Section Meeting, New Orleans, LA, April, 2017
"When Third Party Risks Warrant Walking Away - Red-Flag Scenarios and Interactive Discussions on Agents, Distributors and Intermediaries," Andean Summit on Anti-Corruption Compliance and Enforcement, Bogotá, Colombia, November 16, 2016
"The Different Faces of Corruption," ACI's West Coast FCPA Enforcement & Compliance Conference, San Francisco, CA, October 18, 2016
"Has the International Olympic Committee Risen Above Corruption?," Maryland Journal of International Law Corruption in International Sports Symposium, Baltimore, MD, October, 2016
"International Money Laundering Developments," International Bar Association Transnational Crime Conference, Panama City, Panama, May 12, 2016
"Spotlight on Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico," ACI's 5th Global Forum on Anti-Corruption Compliance in High Risk Markets, Washington, DC, July 16, 2014
"Global Corruption and Bribery Risk," Global Strategic and Enterprise Risk Management Conference, New York, NY, June 5, 2014
"Foreign Corrupt Practices: The Comparative Treatment in Brazil and the United States," Latin America Conference Hosted by US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform, Miami, FL, May 1, 2014
"Bribery and Corruption: Compliance and Enforcement Issues in Emerging Markets," International Bar Association Transnational Crime Conference, Istanbul, Turkey, April 3, 2014
"Corruption Risk," The Conference Board, Managing Global Risk and Reputation to Your Company’s Advantage Seminar, New York, NY, December 11, 2013
"Best Practices on How to Conduct an Internal Investigation," Corporate Counsel Women of Color Career Strategies Conference, Washington, DC, September 25, 2013
"From a Culture of Corruption to a Culture of Compliance: Ensuring That Employees Are Engaged and Vested in Your Local Compliance Programs," Fourth Global Forum on Anti-Corruption, Washington, DC, July, 2013
"Doing Business With Multilateral Development Banks," American University Washington College of Law, US and International Anti-Corruption Law Summer Program, Washington, DC, June 2013
News & Publications
August 15, 2018
July 26, 2018
June 29, 2018
May 30, 2018
May 7, 2018
April 23, 2018
January 19, 2018
The Maryland Journal of International Law
January 3, 2018
November 16, 2017
August 15, 2017
International Law Advisory
April 12, 2018
By: Lucinda A. Low, Brittany Prelogar, Brigida Benitez, Pablo M. Bentes, William L. Drake, Simon Hirsbrunner, Richard K. Wagner, Alexandra Baj, Rachel B. Peck, Ronak D. Desai, John C. London, Jessica Piquet Megaw, Evan T. Abrams, Elizabeth Arkell, Sara Chouraqui, Melissa Freeman, Elizabeth Pericak Ginsburg, Keith Huffman, Peter Ibrahim, Galen Kast, Peter Jeydel, William W. Simoneaux, A. Cherie Tremaine, Lin Yang, Bo Yue
International Law Advisory
June 29, 2017
By: Lucinda A. Low, Brittany Prelogar, Tom Best, Brigida Benitez, Pablo M. Bentes, Brady Cassis, Sara Chouraqui, Peter Ibrahim, Peter Jeydel, John C. London, Jessica Piquet Megaw, Alexandra Melia, Stephanie W. Wang, Zhu (Judy) Wang, Bo Yue
International Law Advisory
May 12, 2017
International Law Advisory
February 16, 2017
By: Lucinda A. Low, Tom Best, Brittany Prelogar, Richard J. Battaglia, Brigida Benitez, Pablo M. Bentes, Matthew J. Herrington, Susan Munro, Richard K. Wagner, Evan T. Abrams, Brady Cassis, Sara Chouraqui, Peter Jeydel, John C. London, Jessica Piquet Megaw, Alexandra Melia, Stephanie W. Wang, Timothy A. Work, Bo Yue
International Law Advisory
November 1, 2016
International Law Advisory
March 8, 2016
By: Lucinda A. Low, Brigida Benitez, Tom Best, Richard J. Battaglia, Pablo M. Bentes, Matthew J. Herrington, Simon Hirsbrunner, Susan Munro, John P. Rupp, Richard K. Wagner, Peter Jeydel, John C. London, Jessica Piquet Megaw, Alexandra Melia, Stephanie W. Wang, Bo Yue
- Global Investigations Review, "Women in Investigations: One Hundred Investigation Specialists From Around the World" (2018)
- Legal 500 US, Dispute Resolution: General commercial disputes (2018)
- Diversity Champion Award, National Pre-Law Diversity Initiatives, Inc. (2017)
- Latinvex, Top 100 Female Lawyers (2016-2017)
- Latino Leaders Magazine, Top Latino Lawyers (2017)
- Latino Leaders Magazine, 25 Most Influential Hispanic Lawyers (2015)
- Super Lawyers, Washington, DC, Litigation (2010, 2013-2018)
- Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law: Management (2013-2019)
- Hispanic Business Magazine, 100 Most Influential US Hispanics (2016)
- Legal 500 US, Litigation: International Trade (2013)
- Women's Bar Association of DC, Star of the Bar Award (2012)
- Hispanic Scholarship Fund Alumni Hall of Fame, Brillante Award (2011)
- Washingtonian magazine, "Top 40 Lawyers Under 40" (2006)
- Hispanic National Bar Association, "Latina Lawyer of the Year" (2006)
- Boston College Law School, 75th Anniversary Alumni Award (2006)
- Hispanic Bar Association of DC, Latina Leader Award (2005)
- Hispanic Business Magazine, "Woman of the Year" (2005)
- Excellence in the Legal Profession Award, Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund
- Best Bar Project, DC Bar
- Inter-American Development Bank, Chief, Office of Institutional Integrity (2010-2012)
Past President, DC Bar
Member, American Law Institute
Fellow, American Bar Foundation
Board Member, Council for Court Excellence
Member, DC Circuit Judicial Conference Committee on Pro Bono Legal Services
Chair, International Business Law Committee, Business Law Section, American Bar Association
Former Commissioner, American Bar Association Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession
Past President, Hispanic Bar Association of DC
Former National Vice-President for External Relations, Hispanic National Bar Association
Former Member, US District Court for the District of Columbia Grievance Committee