Mexican bankers and lawyers are mourning the sudden loss of Vicente Corta, an integral partner at the White & Case office in Mexico City who died Friday from a heart attack at the age of 57.
Condolences from executives and former government officials poured onto social media to acknowledge the passing and accomplishments of an affable lawyer who was widely credited with having rescued Mexico’s banking and pension systems from near-ruin. Corta was a long-time public servant before joining White & Case.
“Vicente was a dear friend and colleague and we are shocked by his passing,” White & Case Chair Hugh Verrier told Law.com International. “He was one of the strongest leaders I’ve ever known, dedicated completely to our clients and people.”
Francisco de Rosenzweig, a White & Case partner and fellow former government official in Mexico, said Corta will be missed across the firm and beyond.
“His impact went well beyond his work at White & Case—he was a well-known and respected figure throughout Mexico’s business, governmental and cultural circles,” De Rosenzweig posted on LinkedIn.
Tony Garza, former U.S. ambassador to Mexico under George W. Bush who is now counsel in the Mexico City office of White & Case, also lauded Corta for his legal skill.
“I always introduced Vicente to others as amongst the very best legal minds in the country, and even better strategist,” Garza said. “As they say in sports, he knew how to ‘skate to where the puck was headed, not where it’d been.’ I’ll miss him, as will all whose lives he touched and the country he made better by serving.”
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Corta contemplated the dilemmas faced by Mexicans at a very difficult juncture. The Mexican government had made clear it planned to offer little public assistance to the private sector.
“Mexico has a lot of experience dealing with crisis,” he said in an interview at the time, demonstrating what many say was his characteristic pragmatism.
Corta had the air of an elder statesman, but with none of the aloofness that might be associated with a man of his stature and connections, his former colleagues said.
“There’s not a single sector, topic or person who today isn’t better after having had contact with him,” José Antonio Meade, who held cabinet positions under Mexican Presidents Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto, reflected in the Mexican daily El Financiero.
Corta acted as a bridge between the public and private sectors in Mexico, having spent 12 years at government financial entities before entering private practice.
“People who develop in both the private and public sectors are more efficient,” Corta said in an interview with Law.com International in 2019.
At White & Case, Corta’s practice focused on the regulatory and transactional aspects of banking, project finance, securities and insolvency matters.
He led the firm’s restructuring practice in Mexico, while also guiding clients through technically complicated derivatives, asset finance, regulatory and compliance issues—as well as handling a number of high-profile shareholder disputes.
Corta was generous with his time and wisdom, lawyers said. He mentored many young lawyers and served on the boards of various companies, including Mexico’s flagship carrier, Aeroméxico.
Andrés Conesa, chief executive of Aeroméxico, took to social media as well to bid farewell to Corta, who he described as “an exceptional person and exemplary Mexican” who contributed in a “decisive manner so that our beloved airline today flies very high.”
Maria Ariza, CEO of Mexico’s alternative stock exchange, BIVA, expressed her thanks to Corta on Twitter for his “positive disposition” and “unconditional support.”
“What a man you were, Vicente Corta.” she wrote. “You left a huge imprint.”