Publications

10.18.19 | Blog Posts

Tax Gap Estimates Show That Compliance Rates Remain Unchanged

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

With the passing of the October 15 deadline for filing individual income tax returns on extension, the extent to which taxpayers voluntarily comply with their tax obligations is top of mind for many tax professionals and observers. For people concerned with such things, the Internal Revenue Service periodically issues reports measuring voluntary compliance with the tax laws by computing the so-called “tax gap”, which purports to represent the difference between taxes that are owed and taxes that are paid. [...]

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

10.15.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

Significant Liability May Await Those Who File SLAPP Suits

New York Law Journal

In recent years, numerous states have enacted laws to deter so-called “SLAPP” suits—i.e., strategic lawsuits against public participation. These anti-SLAPP laws provide procedural protections for individuals and entities that are sued for speaking out on public matters. In this article, we discuss Southern District Judge J. Paul Oetken’s recent decision in National Jewish Democratic Council v. Adelson, in which he addressed – and rejected – several challenges to one of the nation’s most expansive anti-SLAPP laws.

Related Lawyers: Edward M. Spiro, Christopher B. Harwood

10.10.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

SEC’s Reboot on Waiver Requests in Enforcement Settlements

New York Law Journal

When companies consider resolving an SEC enforcement action, they sometimes learn too late about so called “bad-boy” provisions that will inflict serious collateral consequences on their business unless the SEC provides a waiver. In this article, we discuss SEC Chairman Jay Clayton’s recently announced change in how the SEC will consider such waiver requests, which should rationalize the waiver process and provide greater certainty to companies and their shareholders regarding the consequences of enforcement settlements.

Related Lawyers: Robert J. Anello, Richard F. Albert

10.03.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

“Mismarking”: Developments In Valuation Fraud

Business Crimes Bulletin

The Department of Justice has aggressively targeted valuation or “mismarking” fraud in a number of indictments brought within the last few years. In this article, I discuss the Department’s efforts to expand its mismarking inquiries beyond stocks and bonds, highlight recent cases which illuminate the increasing need for robust internal controls designed to eliminate the incentives for an employee or manager to overvalue assets, and conclude that the defense of these cases will likely depend upon the ability of the defendants to discredit the cooperating witnesses while demonstrating that they acted in complete good faith.

Related Lawyer: Telemachus P. Kasulis

10.01.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

Limiting the Reach of the Supreme Court’s McDonnell Decision

New York Law Journal

A key question in most public corruption cases is whether a public official was part of an unlawful quid pro quo. In recent years, the “quo” issue has received particular attention: what type of acts must a public official perform, or contemplate performing, to give rise to criminal liability. In this article, we describe the definition of “official act” in McDonnell, discuss recent Second Circuit decisions which declined to extend the reach of McDonnell’s “official act” requirement, and highlight the continued fluidity of key aspects of anti-bribery law.

Related Lawyers: Elkan Abramowitz, Jonathan S. Sack

09.22.19 | Blog Posts

Trump's Efforts to Quash Manhattan DA's Tax Subpoena: A Tortured Version of the Rule of Law

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

In January 2016, President Trump publicly announced that he would “absolutely” release his tax returns. Since that proclamation, Trump consistently has fought efforts to disclose those same returns. Continuing that trend, Trump has filed a federal complaint to enjoin a subpoena from Manhattan prosecutors that required Trump’s accountant to produce his tax returns. Through his lawsuit, Trump has staked out an unreasonably broad conception of presidential immunity that finds no support in the law—and contorts “policy” beyond recognition. Indeed, read literally, it could unreasonably suggest that even a President’s coconspirators could not be investigated, if to do so would touch on information about the President. [...]

Related Lawyer: Robert J. Anello

09.19.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

Confidentiality of Tax Returns, Congressional Authority and the President

New York Law Journal

Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code sets out a simple “general rule” prohibiting federal employees from disclosing tax returns and return information. This straightforward provision is then modified by a maze of exceptions, several of which are the subject of litigation between Congressional Democrats seeking President Trump’s tax returns and the President seeking to avoid such disclosure. In this article, I discuss Section 6103’s many exceptions, Congress’s pending request for President Trump’s returns, and how litigation over the Congressional requests may provide a roadmap for both prosecutors seeking returns filed by targets in non-tax criminal investigations and civil litigants looking to avoid the heightened discovery burden when seeking copies of tax returns filed by their adversaries.

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

09.18.19 | Blog Posts

Employee Liability for Corporate Misconduct – Elizabeth Warren Style: Can Negligence Become Criminal?

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

Since the last financial crisis and the resulting increased scrutiny on business entities, companies involved in suspected corporate misconduct repeatedly have paid massive fines to resolve criminal charges. Alongside high-profile announcements by the government of multi-million- and billion-dollar recoveries has been a near constant refrain from politicians and commentators that prosecutors have been lax in pursuing individuals in connection with large corporate malfeasance. [...]

Related Lawyer: Robert J. Anello

08.23.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

The Limits of Obtaining Discovery from U.S. Persons for Use in Foreign Proceedings

New York Law Journal

Parties to pending or contemplated foreign proceedings potentially can use 28 U.S.C. § 1782 to obtain broad discovery from U.S. persons for use in foreign proceedings. In this article, we discuss Judge Jed S. Rakoff’s recent decision involving Section 1782 in In re Petrobras Securities Litigation and the legal framework governing the statute.

Related Lawyers: Edward M. Spiro, Christopher B. Harwood

08.15.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

Evaluating Whether to Cooperate in a Federal White Collar Criminal Investigation

Practical Law The Journal

In a cover article for the August/September 2019 issue of Practical Law The Journal, published by Thompson Reuters, Morvillo Abramowitz partner Brian A. Jacobs and associate Nicole L. Buseman discuss the cooperation process in federal white collar investigations, including strategic considerations for counsel and clients.

Related Lawyers: Brian A. Jacobs, Nicole L. Buseman

08.15.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

Epstein Saga Puts Spotlight on Crime Victim’s Rights Act

New York Law Journal

In leading to the ouster of a former United Sates attorney from his cabinet position, the Jeffrey Epstein case drew attention to the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, the federal statute intended to guarantee victims a role in federal criminal proceedings. In this article, we analyze the statute and its role in the Epstein case, and address his victims’ effort to use the statute to invalidate a non-prosecution agreement —which although likely mooted by Epstein’s death—is of particular significance to white-collar practitioners and their clients.  

Related Lawyers: Richard F. Albert, Robert J. Anello

08.14.19 | Blog Posts

All Defendants Are Created Equal Under The Bail Reform Act – or Are They?

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

On August 1, 2019, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals jumped into the fray of what has been a growing debate about the right under the federal Bail Reform Act for individuals facing indictment to create conditions for release that only the wealthiest of defendants can even contemplate, including paying for their own home detention service. In a highly unusual opinion, in the case of United States v. Boustani, the Circuit held that the Bail Reform Act “does not permit a two-tiered bail system in which defendants of lesser means are detained pending trial while wealthy defendants are released to self-funded private jails.” Although the Second Circuit’s “all created equal” pronouncement may be laudable, it is inconsistent with the plain meaning of the Act and unnecessary given the facts of Boustani. As I explain in my prior blog post, “Too Rich to Bail?,” the Bail Reform Act requires that, in each case, courts conduct an individualized assessment of the charges against the defendant as well as the weight of the evidence and the defendant’s underlying history and circumstances, to determine whether any conditions exist that would assure the defendant’s appearance in court. Thus, the Act is inequitable by its very terms. This blog discusses the Circuit’s Boustani opinion and whether the Circuit, in reaching the issue of equitable treatment, misconstrued the Act’s text. [...]

Related Lawyer: Catherine M. Foti

08.06.19 | Blog Posts

The Tax Man Taps the Brakes on Digital Currency Expansion

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

In June 2019, Facebook and a consortium of 28 founding members including Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Uber Technologies, Inc., and eBay announced the launch in 2020 of a new digital currency called Libra, promoted as “a simple global currency and financial infrastructure that empowers billions of people.” In a White Paper introducing Libra, the consortium promises accessibility to the 1.7 billion adults globally who remain outside the financial system but who have access to mobile phones and the internet and pledges trustworthiness and support for “collaborating and innovating with the financial sector, including regulators.” Yet Libra’s global reach and potential for misuse has alarmed U.S. regulators and central bankers worldwide. At a July 11, 2019 Senate Banking Committee hearing, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell expressed concern that no single regulator currently has authority to oversee Libra, stating that “Libra raises a lot of serious concerns, . . . [including] privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, [and] financial stability.” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a White House press briefing on July 15, 2019, acknowledged the great interest in Libra and other cryptocurrencies but voiced Treasury’s serious concern “regarding the growing misuse of virtual currencies by money launderers, terrorist financiers, and other bad players.” Concerns have also been articulated by private citizens. In an Opinion piece published by the Financial Times on June 21, 2019, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes warned that Libra will permit companies that will put their private interests ahead of public ones to exercise monetary control and will “disrupt and weaken nation states by enabling people to move out of unstable local currencies and into a currency denominated in dollars and euros and managed by corporations.” [...]

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

07.19.19 | Blog Posts

The Vanishing of Federal Sentencing Decisions

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

In civil cases, the most important decisions that federal district judges make typically are recorded in the form of written opinions that are collected in the Federal Supplement, widely available for free online, and available in searchable databases on Westlaw and LexisNexis, among other places. In criminal cases, by contrast, some of the most important decisions that federal district judges make—regarding what sentences to impose—are, in the vast majority of cases, lost in the ether of PACER, where they are available only to those who know precisely where to look. This state of affairs is far from ideal for prosecutors, defense attorneys, and district judges, and it is patently unfair for criminal defendants themselves. [...]

Related Lawyer: Brian A. Jacobs

07.18.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

Incriminating Expenses: Cannabis Legalization and the Fifth Amendment

New York Law Journal

More than half of the states and the District of Columbia have adopted legislation to either decriminalize or legalize cannabis, giving rise to numerous for-profit businesses. However, while growing and distributing cannabis is lawful in certain states, the Internal Revenue Code precludes individuals engaged in such conduct from deducting expenses associated with their operations. In this article, I discuss a series of cases exploring the Fifth Amendment implications of disallowing business deductions for state-sanctioned businesses, and address the limitations of the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in litigation over disputed deductions.  

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

07.10.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

Judicial Review of Claims of Government Misconduct in Parallel Investigations

New York Law Journal

Parallel civil and criminal investigations are routine in white-collar matters, and courts have imposed limitations on how prosecutors may obtain the fruits of such civil investigations. In this article, we discuss a recent SDNY decision which required prosecutors to provide substantial additional information about interactions with civil investigators following a defense claim of possible prosecutorial misconduct. 

Related Lawyers: Elkan Abramowitz, Jonathan S. Sack

06.18.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

Avoiding Inadvertent Disclosures of Privileged Information

New York Law Journal

Difficult privilege issues often arise in litigation, including evaluating whether a party has impliedly waived privilege through its litigation conduct, and the extent to which a party can use a privileged document that has been inadvertently produced. In this article, we discuss two recent cases, Barbini v. First Niagara Bank and In re Keurig Green Mountain Single Serve Coffee Antitrust Litigation, in which Southern District Judge Nelson Roman and Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman tackled these issues.

Related Lawyers: Edward M. Spiro, Christopher B. Harwood

06.12.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

The International Encryption Debate: Privacy Versus Big Brother

New York Law Journal

Governments worldwide are attempting to restrict the use of encryption services like WhatsApp and Snapchat to allow a greater opportunity for surveillance. This Big-Brother-is-watching approach has met with resistance from public rights and civil liberty activists. In this article, we discuss the spectrum of the global response – including here in the United States – to the increased use of encrypted technologies and highlight encryption laws and policies of a number of countries. This digital tug-of-war has enormous implications for privacy and for our criminal justice system.  

Related Lawyers: Robert J. Anello, Richard F. Albert

06.05.19 | Blog Posts

Insiders Report on the State of the IRS

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

On May 28, the Commissioner of the Small Business/Self-Employed (“SB/SE”) Division, the National Taxpayer Advocate (“NTA”) and the Chief of IRS Criminal Investigation (“CI”) provided their insider perspectives on the current state of the IRS at a town hall held at the New York City Bar Association. Each of these executives gave insights into the challenges facing the Service. [...]

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

05.22.19 | Blog Posts

How Many Company Employees Can Fit Into a White-Collar Lawyer's Pool?

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

State and federal prosecutors often are suspicious and critical of efforts by a company under criminal investigation to control costs and centralize knowledge by establishing “pool counsel” to represent employees who may be called upon to be witnesses. As a result, government attorneys frequently attempt to dissuade potential witnesses (current/former employees, officers, or agents of the subject organization) from agreeing to be represented by an attorney hired by their company to concurrently represent a group of similarly situated individuals. A recent ethics opinion issued by the Committee on Professional Ethics of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, chaired by renowned ethics expert Professor Bruce Green, makes clear that although pool counsel must evaluate a number of ethical considerations, such representation often is reasonable, practical, and desirable. Hopefully, at least in New York, the Committee’s thoughtful and insightful analysis will allay prosecutors’ undue concerns. [...]

Related Lawyer: Robert J. Anello


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