FT Recognizes S&C for Innovation for 'Delivering a Lifeline' to Venezuelan Health Workers 

December 14, 2021

For its North America Innovative Lawyers awards, the Financial Times profiled Sullivan & Cromwell and a team led by Sergio Galvis for their work “delivering a lifeline” of aid to health care workers and others in Venezuela during the COVID-19 pandemic. FT noted: “Sergio Galvis, head of its Latin America practice, led a 14-strong team including experts in ‘a huge range of disciplines — banking, cyber security, sanctions, payment systems and foreign exchange controls.’”

S&C’s work on this matter made it a finalist for “Innovation in Rescue and Recovery” at the FT awards. Sergio was a finalist for FT’s “Innovative Legal Practitioner.” S&C won multiple awards from the Financial Times, including “Most Innovative Law Firm in North America.” 

Representing Venezuela’s Interim Government led by Juan Guaidó, S&C lawyers obtained licenses from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control to unblock $80 million previously frozen under sanctions against the regime of Nicolás Maduro. They then helped develop a novel disbursement mechanism that uses cryptocurrencies to bypass restrictions imposed by Maduro’s regime that prevented the Interim Government from making critical payments in Venezuela. Sergio and his team worked with technology and digital currency companies to get money into Venezuela without going through the country’s banking system, which is controlled by the Maduro regime. The payments were made into digital wallets of doctors and nurses, as opposed to ordinary bank accounts.

The FT quoted Sergio: “‘We had to come up with a system that complied with US sanctions rules and could lawfully get money into the electronic wallet of a nurse sitting in Caracas so she could go to the supermarket and buy milk.’”