Publications

04.18.18 | Blog Posts

The Stormy Raid of Cohen's Office Strengthens the Attorney-Client Privilege

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

Despite tweets proclaiming the death of the attorney-client privilege, the government’s recent seizure of items from Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, actually serves to preserve and engender respect for the attorney-client privilege by demonstrating the limits of the privilege. The privilege is just that – a privilege, not a right – and the highly-publicized search of Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room reassures the public that an individual cannot hide behind the attorney-client privilege simply because they place an “Esq.” after their name. Even assuming the privilege applies in this case – which given recent revelations of the nature of the lawyer’s activity is debatable – the crime-fraud exception may well “trump” the privilege. That exception, which applies when a client or the lawyer seeks to use the attorney’s services or advice to commit wrongdoing, prevents the cloak of privilege from concealing communications engaged in for fraudulent or illegal purposes. Contrary to recent partisan declarations, this limit on the privilege, in addition to the procedural and legal safeguards that the government must navigate to seize materials from an attorney, insures public trust in the role of lawyers and the appropriate role of the privilege. If lawyers expect to continue to hold a trusted role in society, the proper contours of the important privilege with which they are entrusted needs to be understood and guarded. The crime-fraud exception prevents the exploitation of the attorney-client privilege, which would undermine the public’s respect for the privilege. [...]

Related Lawyer: Robert J. Anello

04.17.18 | Articles

Enforcement of Settlement Agreements – A Case in Point

New York Law Journal

Entering into a settlement agreement does not always mark the end of a litigation. A host of issues may arise in enforcing settlement agreements, as the recent decision in United States v. Prevezon Holdings makes clear. In this article, we discuss Southern District Judge William H. Pauley III’s detailed analysis in Prevezon, which provides valuable insights for counsel negotiating and seeking to enforce settlement agreements.

Related Lawyers: Judith L. Mogul, Edward M. Spiro

04.03.18 | Articles

My Lawyer Said It Was OK: 'Scully' and Defending Based on Reliance on Counsel

New York Law Journal

Good faith reliance on counsel can be a critical line of defense in white-collar prosecutions, but defendants seeking to assert it often face skepticism and procedural hurdles borne of an unduly narrow view of the doctrine. One example is the district court’s ruling in United States v. Scully, and the Second Circuit’s recent opinion reversing that ruling offers useful guidance. In this article, we discuss Scully and other relevant decisions, including case law supporting the so-called “involvement of counsel” defense.

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

03.29.18 | Blog Posts

Where Do Search Warrants Come From?

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

On February 27, 2018, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in United States v. Microsoft Corporation. The central issue in the case – which is now likely moot in light of the passage of the CLOUD Act last week – is whether a United States-based provider of email services must disclose, pursuant to a warrant issued under the Stored Communications Act (“SCA”), digital material stored on servers abroad. Beyond this issue, however, the oral argument in Microsoft also touched on a statutory ambiguity relating to data stored here in the United States, the resolution of which could have important implications for federal criminal investigations. […]

Related Lawyer: Brian A. Jacobs

03.22.18 | Blog Posts

Different Results for Citigroup and Wells Fargo Derivative Claims

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

Following a spate of regulatory investigations and settlements, a shareholder derivative action was filed against Citigroup’s directors and officers, claiming that they had failed to meet their obligation to “oversee company employees’ compliance with law” under the landmark In re Caremark International Inc. Derivative Litigation decision. At first blush, the case deals with issues very similar to those considered in a separate shareholder derivative suit against Wells Fargo & Company, in which a federal district court in May and October 2017 denied motions to dismiss and permitted discovery to proceed – the subject of a separate blog post. However, in the Citigroup case (Oklahoma Firefighters Pension & Retirement System v. Corbat et al.), the Delaware Chancery Court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss and then denied a plaintiff motion to reopen the case. It is instructive to consider the Chancery Court’s analysis in the Citigroup case and to contrast the allegations there with the issues in the Wells Fargo case. […]

Related Lawyer: Jonathan S. Sack

03.21.18 | Articles

'Menendez' Decision Clarifies Issues in Public Corruption Cases

New York Law Journal

Attention has shifted in recent years from prosecutions of insider trading to high-profile charges of public corruption. In this article, we discuss Senior District Judge William H. Walls’s dismissal of campaign finance related counts in United States v. Menendez, followed by dismissal of the remaining counts at the government’s request. Judge Walls’s thoughtful analysis provides useful guidance to prosecutors and defense counsel in future public corruption cases.

Related Lawyers: Elkan Abramowitz, Jonathan S. Sack

03.15.18 | Articles

Deterrence in an Age of Dwindling Enforcement

New York Law Journal

The Tax Division of the Department of Justice has long sought to maximize the impact of criminal prosecutions by focusing its limited resources on a small number of high-profile offenders in the hopes that publicity regarding such prosecutions will lead others to comply with their tax obligations. As a logical extension of this principle, it is commonly accepted that general deterrence is a significant consideration in sentencing convicted tax offenders. In this article, we discuss how the recent reductions in the Internal Revenue Service’s enforcement budget has negatively affected the number of tax investigations and prosecutions, heightening questions regarding the fairness of ratcheting sentences of convicted tax offenders even higher to offset the loss of deterrence resulting from reduced enforcement activity.

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

03.08.18 | Blog Posts

Prosecuting Corporations: NOT High on Administration’s To Do List

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

After a year of conjecture about the Trump administration’s approach to white-collar crime, the Justice Department has reinforced speculation of a relatively hands-off approach to corporate prosecutions. While asserting that it will hold individuals accountable for corporate criminal behavior, Justice Department leaders have stated that they will not “employ the hammer of criminal enforcement to extract unfair settlements” from corporate entities. In pursuit of that strategy, at the end of last year, federal prosecutors announced an initiative for leniency in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases where a corporation voluntarily discloses conduct in violation of the FCPA and cooperates with the government. Recently, the government displayed an intention to apply this policy outside of the FCPA context as well. [...]

Related Lawyer: Robert J. Anello

02.23.18 | Blog Posts

Dodd-Frank's Anti-Retaliation Protections Apply Only to Whistleblowers Who Report to the SEC

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

In Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers, a 9-0 opinion by Justice Ginsburg issued February 21, 2018, the Supreme Court held that the anti-retaliation provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act do not extend to employees who have reported internally but extend only to employees who have reported suspected securities law violations to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Supreme Court's decision reversed the Ninth Circuit, and resolved a longtime circuit split. The Fifth Circuit has held that employees must provide information to the SEC while the Ninth and Second Circuits held that reporting internally is enough for employees to qualify for Dodd-Frank Act's anti-retaliation protections. [...]

Related Lawyer: Catherine M. Foti

02.20.18 | Blog Posts

Something Rotten in Denmark? The International Criminalization of Drug Advertising

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

Sometimes, when it comes to drafting posts for The Insider, a little digging can turn up remarkable results. This week’s post demonstrates the point, as it originates from short news stories that appeared recently in two journals that may not be so well known: Medwatch, based in Copenhagen, and Stat, headquartered in Boston. Both sites cover the pharmaceutical and health care industries, and both deserve considerable appreciation, because what they have uncovered is alarming and even disturbing: in the pharmaceutical industry, despite a recent increase in legal protections, you can still go to prison for posting truthful statements on social media about government-approved prescription medications. [...]

Related Lawyer: Robert M. Radick

02.20.18 | Articles

You Can’t Sue the Judge, or Can You?

New York Law Journal

Although judges are sometimes attacked in public comments outside the courtroom, those of us who practice regularly before the courts operate on the assumption that judges are broadly immune from attack within the legal system. In this article, we analyze a recent decision in Zappin v. Cooper by Southern District Judge Katherine Polk Failla, discussing a surprising gap in judicial immunity accorded to New York state judges, and ultimately dismissing the claims against a judge on alternative grounds.

Related Lawyers: Judith L. Mogul, Edward M. Spiro

02.08.18 | Articles

White Collar Criminal Enforcement in the Era of Trump

New York Law Journal

The Trump administration is emphasizing individual rather than corporate liability in white collar investigations and has shifted the focus of criminal law enforcement toward some non-white collar priorities. In this article, we discuss how the move away from corporate criminal liability has been manifest in policy decisions by the Justice Department, highlight the transition of its staff, and discuss whether this shift in priorities is likely to result in a decrease in white collar investigations and prosecutions.

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

01.18.18 | Articles

The Next Frontier: Civil Penalties for Undisclosed Offshore Accounts

New York Law Journal

Over the last decade, the government’s pursuit of offshore tax evasion has included criminal cases against taxpayers and their enablers, Deferred Prosecution and Non-Prosecution Agreements with foreign financial institutions, and four Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programs offered by the IRS. This article discusses an often overlooked fourth prong of the government’s offshore enforcement efforts: the IRS’s imposition of significant civil penalties against taxpayers who were fortunate enough to avoid criminal prosecution. The article also reviews recent cases addressing the IRS’s burden of establishing that a taxpayer’s failure to disclose offshore accounts was willful and the hurdles facing taxpayers and their lawyers seeking to avoid the steep penalties imposed.

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

01.10.18 | Blog Posts

Bitcoin Buyers Beware: The IRS Has Your Number

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

As the number and variety of cryptocurrencies on the market continue to grow, so does the scrutiny by government regulators. As noted in my prior post, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission have developed units focused on cyber-threats, as have numerous foreign governments. Most recently, the Internal Revenue Service has joined the mix by investigating the ways in which taxpayers do – and more importantly, do not – report virtual currency transactions. Now Congress has gotten in on the action by amending the tax code to close a loophole that allowed cryptocurrency owners to exchange digital currencies without reporting the transactions on their tax returns. 2018 is likely to be a year of uncertainty for owners of cryptocurrencies, which may account in part for the double digit decline in the value of Bitcoins at the end of December. [...]

Related Lawyer: Robert J. Anello

01.04.18 | Articles

Recent Developments in the Prosecution of Corporations

New York Law Journal

The prosecution of corporations remains a contentious issue in white-collar criminal enforcement. In this article, we discuss the DOJ’s new FCPA Corporate Enforcement Policy and District of Massachusetts Judge William Young’s rejection of a corporate guilty plea in the Aegerion Pharmaceuticals case – two developments that highlight the significance of prosecutorial discretion in investigations of corporate misconduct.

Related Lawyers: Elkan Abramowitz, Jonathan S. Sack

12.21.17 | Articles

Challenges in Successfully Asserting the Fifth Amendment

New York Law Journal

Sorting through when, how and to what extent a deponent in civil litigation may invoke the Fifth Amendment presents both substantive and procedural questions. In this article, we discuss the recent decision in Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) v. Pence in which the court’s particularized analysis of the Fifth Amendment issues, as well as its procedural considerations, provide useful guidance for counsel whose clients seek to invoke or limit the invocation of the privilege in civil litigation.

Related Lawyers: Judith L. Mogul, Edward M. Spiro

12.20.17 | Blog Posts

An Unexpected Critique of the Grand Jury Subpoena Power

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

On November 29, 2017, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Carpenter v. United States, which presents the question of whether the federal government must, under the Fourth Amendment, obtain a warrant before getting historical cell-site location records from cell phone service providers. Broadly speaking, the government argued that it did not need to obtain a warrant because individuals do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in business records held by third parties (in this case, the cell service providers). Carpenter countered that the warrantless collection of data revealing people’s long-term movements so violates reasonable expectations of privacy that a warrant is required, notwithstanding that the data is possessed by third parties. [...]

Related Lawyer: Brian A. Jacobs

12.05.17 | Articles

Government Makes Manafort’s Lawyer A Key Witness Against Him – Ho-hum?

New York Law Journal

Mostly lost among the headlines regarding the charges brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was the simultaneous release of a court opinion compelling one of Manafort’s own lawyers to testify against him in the grand jury. In this article, we trace the history of the bar’s failed efforts to restrict the authority of federal prosecutors to issue this troubling type of subpoena, and discuss the D.C. district court’s decision affirming that authority in the Manafort case.

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

11.30.17 | Blog Posts

Wells Fargo Litigation Highlights Directors’ Obligation to Establish and Monitor Corporate Compliance

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

Fallout from the unauthorized opening of bank and credit card accounts at Wells Fargo has been immense. Thousands of employees, including the CEO, have lost their jobs, and several long-serving directors were forced to resign. The bank has thus far paid about $185 million in penalties and reportedly has reached and received preliminary approval for a proposed $142 million class-action settlement to compensate customers for accounts opened without their permission. Wells Fargo still faces ongoing investigations by the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission. [...]

Related Lawyer: Jonathan S. Sack

11.16.17 | Articles

Defining “Collected Proceeds” Under the IRS’s Whistleblower Program

New York Law Journal

Information from whistleblowers has generated billions of dollars in revenues for the IRS and hundreds of millions of dollars for whistleblowers. This article discusses Whistleblower 21276-13w v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, in which the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit will review the Tax Court’s determination that awards should be based on the entire amount the government recovers based on a whistleblower’s information. While the IRS has argued that awards should be limited to amounts recovered under the Internal Revenue Code, others worry that excluding recoveries under other statutes could hamper the IRS’s enforcement efforts.

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin


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