María Fernanda Zajía is ranked among the leading lawyers in public law in Chambers Latin America 2012. She graduated summa cum laude from Universidad Central de Venezuela, and obtained her master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University in New York. Ms. Zajía currently heads the Government Relations and Contracts Practice Group and the Professional Development Committee of the Caracas office.
Ms. Zajía has more than 16 years of experience providing extensive legal advice on municipal tax, and on administrative and regulatory matters. She counsels local and foreign businesses on public bids, exchange control procedures, consumer protection issues, corporate compliance, anti-corruption training and pharmaceutical regulation. She has participated in many of the most complex and significant forceful acquisition measures in Venezuela, and has assisted clients in designing and implementing tailored action plans to protect their investments, and to implement preventive actions to improve the legal condition of companies in case of eventual expropriations. She also assists clients in the legal analysis of governmental authorizations and approvals for the validity of agreements with Venezuelan government agencies and corporations.
Representative Legal Matters
- Acted as counsel in the defense of a major US airline in an investigation conducted by the Venezuelan antitrust agency.
- Represented a major US company in several preventive and voluntary recalls from the Venezuelan market, of products that could have adverse health effects.
- Acted as counsel for a Venezuelan towing service company in the expropriation and takeover of the client’s assets as a result of the Organic Law Reserving to the State the Goods and Services Related to Primary Hydrocarbons Activities.
- Assisted a major mining client in an arbitration claim filed with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes for the unilateral termination of agreement for exploration and exploitation of alluvial and vein mineral deposits in Venezuela.
- Assisted a major tobacco company in preparing a contingency assets protection plan in case of expropriation and/or intervention by the Venezuelan government.
- Provided legal assistance to a major client in the process of expropriation initiated by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela against the Margarita Hilton & Hotel Complex.
- Assisted several clients in connection with the restrictions and obligations imposed by the Law on Fair Costs and Prices.
Professional Associations and Memberships
- Caracas Bar Association
- Venezuela (1989)
- Columbia University (M.B.A.) (1994)
- University of Venezuela (M.C.L. Honors) (1989)
Baker & McKenzie SC is a member of Baker & McKenzie International, a Swiss Verein.