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White-Collar Enforcement Under Attorney General Eric Holder - 03.04.2015

When Attorney General Eric Holder took office in February 2009, the country was in the midst of a financial crisis, and many voices called for holding companies and individuals accountable for alleged criminal conduct. In this article, we discuss how the Department of Justice responded to the financial crisis, highlight key initiatives separate from the financial crisis, and address likely Department priorities going forward.

A Small Barracuda in a Big Pond: New York’s Department of Financial Services - 02.27.2015

World-wide financial institutions take notice – New York has a new regulator on the scene. Newsweek describes him as “body-slamming” one of the world’s largest banks, “the man the banks fear most.” The Wall Street Journal has labeled him “one of Wall Street’s most dogged pursuers.” American Banker characterizes him as “pushing the envelope” of bank regulation. In three years on the job, this regulator and the new agency he rules have extracted more than $3 billion in fines from global banks. In a speech he delivered at Columbia University this Wednesday, the regulator made clear that, in all likelihood, these headline-grabbing events are just a sign of things to come. [...]

Recurring Challenges to Privilege and Work Product Doctrine - 02.18.2015

In this article, we discuss three recent decisions by judges of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York which expose some common misconceptions regarding the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine and offer some valuable guidance for those litigating privilege and work product disputes.

The Surprise Cost of Whistleblowing - 02.12.2015

On February 3, 2015, in United States v. Huron Consulting Group, Inc., U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, took the unusual – but not unprecedented – step of ordering a False Claims Act (“FCA”) relator to pay thousands of dollars of costs to the prevailing defendants Huron Consulting Group, Inc. and Empire Health Choice Assurance, Inc. This opinion highlights the financial dangers faced by individuals who try to blow the whistle on potentially illegal behavior. [...]

Waning Influence of Sentencing Guidelines in White-Collar Cases - 02.04.2015

The restoration of sentencing judges’ discretion in the post-Booker era has rendered the federal sentencing guidelines—widely perceived as unduly punitive—less important in the white-collar context. Statistics confirm that courts increasingly have chosen to impose non-guideline sentences and, in some recent high profile cases, even the prosecution has proposed sentences below the guideline range. The U.S. Sentencing Commission recently has responded to complaints about the guidelines’ application by proposing a series of amendments to the guidelines governing economic crimes. We discuss all of this in our latest New York Law Journal article.

Benchmark Litigation Names Morvillo Abramowitz White Collar Crime/Enforcement/Securities Firm of the Year 2015 - 01.29.2015

On Thursday, January 29, 2015, Benchmark Litigation named Morvillo Abramowitz White Collar Crime/Enforcement/Securities Law Firm of the Year at its Annual Awards ceremony.

In addition to winning this award, the recently released Benchmark Litigation 2015 guide identifies Morvillo Abramowitz as a “Highly Recommended” firm (the guide's top honor) in New York, and ranks the firm in the top tier nationally in White Collar Crime/Enforcement/Investigations. Further, 12 individual Morvillo Abramowitz lawyers were named as “Litigation Stars” in the publication. According to Benchmark, “client feedback on the firm is resounding and plentiful; one such client in particular cheers, ‘[…] Integrity and talent to defend on principle: sadly, a novel concept these days, but not with this firm.’”

Benchmark Litigation is the definitive guide to America's leading litigation firms and attorneys.

Internal Revenue Service Budget Cuts Spell Trouble - 01.29.2015

According to its mission statement, the Internal Revenue Service’s goal is “to provide America’s taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.” Over the past few years, the IRS has had to fulfill this mission with shrinking resources, and National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson has noted that “the budget environment of the last five years has brought about a devastating erosion of taxpayer service, harming taxpayers individually and collectively.” In this article, we discuss concerns that the additional cuts implemented as part of the recent budget deal will undermine both revenue collection and the fair enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code. 

Benchmark Litigation Names Morvillo Abramowitz White Collar Crime/Enforcement/Securities Firm of the Year 2015 - 01.29.2015

NEW YORK, January 29, 2015 - Benchmark Litigation named Morvillo Abramowitz White Collar Crime/Enforcement/Securities Law Firm of the Year at its Annual Awards ceremony.

In addition to winning this award, the recently released Benchmark Litigation 2015 guide identifies Morvillo Abramowitz as a “Highly Recommended” firm (the guide's top honor) in New York, and ranks the firm in the top tier nationally in White Collar Crime/Enforcement/Investigations. Further, 12 individual Morvillo Abramowitz lawyers were named as “Litigation Stars” in the publication. According to Benchmark, “client feedback on the firm is resounding and plentiful; one such client in particular cheers, ‘[…] Integrity and talent to defend on principle: sadly, a novel concept these days, but not with this firm.’”

Benchmark Litigation is the definitive guide to America's leading litigation firms and attorneys.

American Conference Institute's 4th National Forum on Securities Litigation & Enforcement - 01.23.2015

On Friday, January 23, 2015, Morvillo Abramowitz partner Jonathan Sack will speak at the American Conference Institute's 4th National Forum on Securities Litigation & Enforcement. Mr. Sack will speak on a panel entitled "Industry Response to Emerging Enforcement and Regulatory Initiatives and Strategies for Defending a Company in a Claim Brought by the Government in Today’s Challenging Climate," which will address discernible trends. The event will be held on January 22 -23 at The Carlton Hotel in Manhattan. For more information, please visit www.americanconference.com/seclit.

Implications of Second Circuit Reversal of Insider Trading Convictions - 01.09.2015

The Department of Justice has brought few high-profile criminal cases against individuals arising from the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The department’s cases have tended to charge large financial institutions, not senior officials. A number of the high-profile cases arising from the collapse of mortgage-backed securities have resulted in civil, not criminal, charges and settlements. And the typical sanction has been the payment of substantial (often multi-billion dollar) sums to the government, not imprisonment.

The Year in White-Collar Crime: A Look Back Helps Us See Ahead - 01.08.2015

The Justice Department’s white-collar agenda in 2014 was marked by skyrocketing corporate settlements and continued reliance on deferred and non-prosecution agreements, coupled with compliance monitors. Several significant decisions with long-term implications for white-collar cases also were issued by federal courts in 2014. A look at the Justice Department’s approach and these decisions offer a clue as to what to expect in white-collar cases in 2015. [...]

Practical Observations by Judges on the Scope of Discovery - 12.18.2014

In the last several months, judges of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York have issued a number of rulings on discovery disputes that offer both pragmatic resolution of the dispute at hand and broader, instructive commentary on the scope of permissible discovery. These rulings make clear that Southern District judges are increasingly losing patience with discovery for discovery’s sake. This article discusses several of those opinions.

Morvillo Abramowitz Partner Robert J. Anello Quoted in MSNBC Article - 12.18.2014

On December 18, 2014, Morvillo Abramowitz partner Robert J. Anello was quoted in an MSNBC article, “As U.S.-Cuba Tension Thaws, the Fate of a Fugitive is in Question,” which discusses the question of whether or not Assata Shakur, formerly JoAnne Chesimard and the step-aunt of deceased rapper Tupac Shakur, will be extradited back to the U.S. to carry out the remainder of her life sentence. Mr. Anello stated, “It certainly will be easier than when we weren’t talking to Cuba, although it may not be the first order of priority.” He also said, “You will see both countries trying to do things to foster better relations.”

The Barko v. KBR Privilege Battle Continues - 12.17.2014

A high-profile qui tam suit against Kellogg, Brown & Root and Halliburton continues to generate important case law relating to the scope of attorney-client privilege and work product protection given to internal investigations.

In the lawsuit, arising out of alleged false claims to the government under Iraq reconstruction-related contracts, federal judge James S. Gwin in Washington, D.C. held, in March 2014, that internal investigation materials were not protected by the attorney-client privilege because the investigation had been conducted as a matter of regular company policy by internal compliance personnel and as required by federal law. (I wrote about Judge Gwin’s ruling in a blog entitled “When Is An Internal Investigation Not Privileged.”) The defendants appealed the ruling, which led to a unanimous decision three months later in In Re: Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., No. 14-5055 (D.C. Cir. June 27, 2014), in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated the district court decision, holding that an internal investigation is privileged so long as “one of the significant purposes” of the investigation is to obtain or provide legal advice. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the District Court for further proceedings. (I discussed the D.C. Circuit’s opinion in “D.C. Circuit Upholds Claim of Corporate Attorney-Client Privilege.”) That ruling is now subject to a petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court. [...]

Partner Robert J. Anello Recognized by Law Journal Press for His Editorship of White Collar Crime: Business and Regulatory Offenses - 12.17.2014

Law Journal Press recently published new book covers for the treatise White Collar Crime: Business and Regulatory Offenses, to recognize the contribution of partner Robert J. Anello, who became an editor of the treatise in 2012. The treatise has been described as “a fundamental and essential addition to every practitioners bookshelf.”