Meet MoFo’s Investigations + White-Collar Defense Lawyers: Dr. Mingda Hang

Dr. Mingda Hang is a litigation associate in MoFo’s Washington, D.C. office. He focuses his practice on white-collar criminal defense and internal investigations, representing companies and individuals facing a wide range of allegations involving securities and accounting fraud, corruption and briberies, economic espionage, and money laundering. Mingda has worked with and defended both corporate clients in high-profile cross-border investigations, and a number of individual clients in resolving potential and actual criminal charges.

In addition to his experience, Mingda draws strength from a diverse background. He was born and raised in China, and came to the United States at 23 for graduate school. Prior to his legal career, Mingda studied regulatory mechanisms of how DNAs are transcribed in eukaryotic cells and received his doctorate degree in molecular genetics and microbiology from the School of Medicine at University of Virginia. Since graduating from Virginia Law in 2014, Mingda has helped a number of Chinese clients to navigate through the U.S. government enforcement landscape, and the significant cultural challenges that it presents. Mingda’s ability to seamlessly understand clients’ needs and provide counsel, on both a linguistic and cultural level, has proven to be uniquely effective.

What was it that initially drew you to this area of law?

Two things. First, white‑collar crimes, either on a corporate level or an individual level, are invariably studies of human nature. I am drawn to that. Second, I was a molecular geneticist by training, so getting to the bottom of things is very attractive to me.

Do you have any examples of interesting work you’ve performed in this space?

In 2018, Chuck Duross and I represented a Chinese environmental engineering company and its managing director in a World Bank sanctions proceeding. The World Bank alleged that our client, with the help of a local consultant, colluded with an Indonesian government official, and subsequently used the insider information to secure a World Bank-financed project. Our client was facing a four-year debarment, meaning that they would be ineligible to apply for funding from any multilateral development banks for four years. This would have been an effective death sentence for many companies operating in this sphere.

Our client believed in its innocence and decided to fight the charges all the way to the World Bank’s Sanctions Board, which is the highest tribunal within the Bank. It was a tall order: more than 98% of petitioners have lost their cases in front of the Sanctions Board. This is understandable: at the end of the day, the Bank must vigilantly protect its integrity. Long story short, we beat the odds and successfully persuaded the Board that the severe penalty was unwarranted in light of the factual record. In the end, the Board issued a letter of reprimand in place of the four-year debarment, a dramatic turn of events and probably the best result possible for our client.

Can you speak to the importance of mentorship in your career, or perhaps why you are driven to mentor others?

I have been exceedingly fortunate to apprentice under several former federal prosecutors. In September 2017, I joined MoFo for the specific purpose of seeking mentorship by Chuck Duross and James Koukios. The white-collar practice, while exhilarating and rewarding, is also fraught with risks and pitfalls for our clients, the firm, and ourselves. Some of the most critical skills in this area of law, including being a disciplined communicator and risk manager, are intangible and can only be learned by shadowing the masters and waxing the car.

Learn more about MoFo’s commitment to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of diverse attorneys here.