Patton Boggs attorneys have secured an acquittal in a white-collar prosecution in Kosovo for the leaders of a telecommunications company.
Partners Andrew Friedman and Benjamin Chew defended the Devolli Group’s Blerim and Shkelqim Devolli against allegations of fraud, entering into “harmful contracts” and falsifying documents. The two partners were assisted by of counsel Graham Wisner and associate Mary Moore.
Chew is co-chairman of Patton Boggs’ commercial litigation and antitrust group, while Friedman is a partner in the government investigations and white-collar practice.
In 2008, Dardafone, a business venture between the Devolli Group and Unitel Co. of New York, obtained a license from Kosovo authorities to provide mobile phone service. Dardafone partnered with the government-owned Post and Telecom of Kosovo. In exchange for use of its infrastructure, Dardafone would share revenue.
The Deveolli Group allegedly defrauded its U.S. business partner and misled the government-owned telecommunications operator. In preliminary hearings, Patton Boggs attorneys secured dismissal of two of the five charges. The rest went to trial in October 2012. A three-judge trial panel in Kosovo acquitted the defendants on the remaining charges.
In an interview, Friedman said that he and Chew were hired soon after the Devollis were charged in the middle of 2011. Both partners had to study for and take a bar exam to practice in the court.
“Some of the challenges are that it’s a different legal system, and it’s more of a code rather than a common law,” Friedman said. “The rules are different.”
Friedman said that the firm does a lot of investigations with an international perspective, and credited Patton Boggs foreign affairs advisor Frank Wisner for helping with the connection. Frank is the former U.S. Ambassador to Zambia, Egypt, the Philippines and India. He was also the U.S. special representative to the Kosovo Status Talks in 2005 which paved the way for Kosovo’s independence.