Law firm Sidley reveals $3.4 million in fees from Argentina’s YPF oil company


Signage is seen outside of the law firm Sidley Austin at their legal offices in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 10, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Sidley lawyers have advised leading Argentine oil company in Delaware court
  • Firm’s work also included outreach to U.S. Justice Department

(Reuters) – Law firm Sidley Austin reported receiving more than $3.4 million in attorneys’ fees between November and March for its work for Argentina’s national oil company YPF SA, U.S. Justice Department filings show.

Chicago-based Sidley disclosed the revenue on Friday in a filing under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires law firms, lobbyists and others to report certain advocacy services for foreign clients.

The public filings offer a glimpse into the work of law firms, identifying clients, revenue and rates not widely published otherwise. For example, a filing last year showed Covington & Burling had earned more than $8 million in fees from the Moroccan state-owned phosphate company OCP SA.

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Sidley since 2018 has represented YPF in an adversarial proceeding in Delaware bankruptcy court. In March, the firm said it had broadened its mandate for YPF to include advocacy at the Justice Department. Until then, Sidley’s court work for YPF was exempt from public disclosure through the foreign-agent law.

The filings show Sidley lawyers spoke to the Justice Department in late 2021 about the Delaware case, in which Maxus Liquidating Trust is suing YPF over billions of dollars in alleged environmental liabilities.

It was not immediately clear why Sidley had reached out to the DOJ to discuss the case. A Justice Department spokesperson on Monday declined to comment.

Sidley lawyers John Kuster and David Buente, who represent YPF, did not return a message seeking comment on Monday. Lawyers from Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton also represent YPF in the Delaware litigation.

YPF has denied liability for environmental claims lodged against Maxus concerning certain chemical plants. Maxus filed for bankruptcy in 2016.

Sidley’s filings showed Kuster, a co-leader of the firm’s commercial litigation and disputes practice, charges $1,186 hourly. Buente, a Sidley environmental partner, has billed at $1,144.

The firm said in its filings that it “may participate in off-the-record meetings which may involve government officials or representatives from both the United States and Argentina.”

Sidley has registered under FARA for its work for the Israeli government and the Russian bank VTB. The firm last week reported receiving $365,000 for its advocacy for the bank between October and late February.

The firm moved to end its relationship with VTB after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

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