Internationally prominent attorney Ko-Yung Tung has rejoined the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP after serving as the Vice President and General Counsel at the World Bank and as Secretary General of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
At the World Bank, Mr. Tung was responsible for all legal aspects of the Bank and was a key member of the Bank’s policies and operations management team. During his tenure, Mr.Tung was involved in many major operations of the Bank, including the financial crisis in Argentina, the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline, the Bujagali dam project in Uganda, banking sector reform in Mexico, the resumption of membership of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and reconstruction of Afghanistan. In addition, he took the initiative in promoting the Rule of Law through legal and judicial reform projects in its member countries.
During his tenure as Secretary General of ICSID, ICSID became the premier forum for the settlement of investment disputes between foreign investors and host governments. Other than the traditional ICSID cases, ICSID has become a preferred arbitral forum for NAFTA cases involving the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Of about 2000 existing bilateral investment treaties, over two-thirds select ICSID as their method of dispute settlement.
His previous practice concentrated on mergers and acquisitions, investments, and financings involving Japan and the Pacific Rim. With his experience at the World Bank and ICSID, his practice will expand to include matters involving sovereign debt; investments in developing countries, particularly Latin America and Southeast Asia; and international disputes.
On his return to private practice, Mr. Tung observed, “I had an absolutely unique experience at the World Bank and ICSID, working with its 184 member countries, in over 100 countries, in matters as diverse as banking reform, energy infrastructure, and Afghanistan reconstruction. I hope that I was able to contribute personally to the Bank’s mission to promote sustainable and equitable economic development and poverty reduction.” He added, “I am looking forward to returning to private practice, where I will be able to assist our clients as they continue to seek investment opportunities in both developed as well as developing countries. As multinational enterprises continue to globalize, expertise and knowledge of the economies, policies, and laws of different jurisdictions will be of critical importance.”
In addition to his responsibilities at O’Melveny & Myers, Mr. Tung will continue to play a leading role as Chairman of the World Bank’s International Advisory Council on Law and Justice, whose members include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, U.K. Chief Justice Harry Woolf, and former Indian Chief Justice Bhagwatti.
Mr. Tung was born in Beijing and grew up in Japan. He studied physics at Harvard College, graduating magna cum laude, and received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1973. He spent a year as a Fellow studying Japanese law at the University of Tokyo, Japan. During his previous tenure with O’Melveny & Myers, Mr. Tung was Chairman of the Global Practice Group and a member of the firm’s Management Committee. He will be primarily based in the firm’s New York office.
Mr. Tung is fluent in Japanese and English, and conversant in Chinese and French. In addition to his private practice, he serves on the Boards of Transparency International-USA, the Morin Center for Banking and Financial Law at Boston University Law, the International Development Law Organization based in Rome, and the London Forum of International Economic Law and Development of the University of London; and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute.
He has served as Chairman of the East-West Center in Hawaii, on the Advisory Council of Human Rights Watch/Asia, and on the Board of the Asian-American Legal and Education Fund; and was a member of the Trilateral Commission. President Clinton appointed him to the Presidential Commission on International Trade and Investment. Mr. Tung also taught Japanese law and international business law at New York University School of Law.