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White Collar Criminal Defense

We defend companies and hedge funds, as well as individual officers, traders, bankers, analysts, portfolio managers, attorneys and other professionals in federal and state criminal investigations across the country.  Our experience on white collar issues is comprehensive, and includes cases involving securities fraud, insider trading, financial statement and accounting fraud, market…

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Representative Matters

  • The founder of a cryptocurrency derivatives exchange in a Southern District of New York criminal prosecution alleging violations of the Bank Secrecy Act based upon an alleged failure to have BSA-compliant anti-money laundering and know-your-customer policies.
  • An executive from a cryptocurrency mining business in a District of New Jersey criminal prosecution alleging wire fraud conspiracy and conspiracy to sell unregistered securities.
  • The owner of a credit-card processor in a Southern District of New York criminal case alleging conspiracy, mail fraud, and wire fraud
  • An executive at a generic pharmaceutical company in a DOJ Antitrust Division criminal investigation
  • An executive of a large automobile manufacturer in a DOJ fraud investigation of diesel-automobile emissions testing
  • An attorney at a large US bank in parallel investigations concerning sales practice misconduct involving, among other things, opening accounts without customer authorization
  • An investment banker in parallel investigations conducted by the Eastern District of New York, the Central District of California, the DOJ’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the DOJ’s Fraud Section, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Reserve into alleged fraud and money laundering involving a foreign sovereign-wealth fund
  • A business owner in a federal tax, money laundering, and fraud investigation
  • A mortgage banker in a federal investigation of allegedly fraudulent applications for commercial real estate mortgages
  • A pharmaceutical sales representative in a District of New Jersey investigation of alleged kickbacks
  • An official of an international soccer organization in a prosecution in the Eastern District of New York
  • A New York City employee in criminal investigations concerning alleged campaign finance irregularities
  • A hedge fund manager in a securities fraud investigation concerning misappropriation of investor assets
  • An employee of an internet technology company in a Southern District of New York criminal case alleging fraudulent sales of online education services
  • A marketing manager in a criminal antitrust investigation of alleged collusion in the market for generic drugs
  • A business owner in a federal criminal investigation of an alleged bribery scheme involving the United Nations and certain foreign government officials
  • A derivatives trader in a criminal investigation of alleged front running
  • A trader in a criminal market manipulation and securities fraud case in the Eastern District of New York

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS AT PRIOR FIRMS

  • An RMBS trader in a first-of-its-kind criminal securities fraud case, in which the conviction was reversed based upon the record we built at trial
  • A hedge fund manager in insider trading cases brought by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the SEC
  • A casino based in the Northern Mariana Islands in a criminal Bank Secrecy Act case, in which we successfully negotiated a deferred prosecution agreement
  • Several former Lehman Brothers managing directors in government investigations
  • A hedge fund in a Manhattan District Attorney’s Office criminal investigation of valuation practices
  • A global computer server manufacturer in a federal grand jury investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas involving export control violations
  • A CEO in a federal grand jury investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey involving the Taft-Hartley and Hobbs Acts
  • A pharmaceutical company in a federal investigation involving a cyberattack and theft of nonpublic information
  • A specialty finance company in a Manhattan District Attorney’s Office investigation into the company’s lending practices that began with a search warrant, but which we successfully closed out in two months
  • A NASDAQ listed technology company based in South Africa in parallel DOJ and SEC investigations into alleged violations of the FCPA, in which the SEC issued a closing letter
  • A trader in DOJ’s LIBOR investigation
  • An attorney in a criminal securities fraud investigation concerning the unlawful sale of restricted stock
  • A major accounting firm in the negotiation of a deferred prosecution agreement relating to the sale of tax shelter products
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Regulatory Enforcement

We have substantial experience representing organizations and individuals in civil enforcement investigations conducted by the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the New York Attorney General, and other state attorneys general, as well as SROs including FINRA, the CME, and ICE.  Our thorough understanding of markets,…

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Representative Matters

  • All defendants in SEC v. Yorkville Advisors, LLC, Mark Angelo and Edward Schinik, 12-cv-7728 (GBD)(SDNY), an SEC enforcement action alleging that a cherry-picked handful of positions in Yorkville’s nearly $1 billion portfolio were over-valued in the midst of the financial crisis.  On March 29, 2018, the Court granted our Daubert motion challenging the admissibility of the SEC’s valuation expert, and also granted partial summary judgment, gutting the SEC’s valuation claims.  Memorandum decision and order available here
  • A subprime whole loan trader in a civil FIRREA investigation into the securitization practices of a large investment bank.  Our briefing on the pending motion to dismiss is available here and here
  • The former CFO of a public company in an SEC investigation concerning the disclosure of certain non-GAAP operating metrics
  • Futures traders in joint CFTC and CME investigations of allegedly disruptive trading in energy futures contracts
  • A futures trader at a large South American bank in a CME investigation of alleged spoofing
  • A trader at a high frequency trading firm in a CFTC investigation of alleged spoofing
  • A structured products sales representative at a major broker-dealer in SEC and FINRA investigations of allegedly deceptive sales tactics
  • A managing director at a large investment bank in a FINRA investigation concerning alleged gaming of compliance e-learning certifications
  • Two Russia-based traders in an SEC enforcement action alleging that inside information was hacked from newswire sites, which settled on favorable terms
  • An Asia-based employee of an investment bank in an SEC investigation of hiring practices
  • A supply chain executive in an SEC investigation of alleged violations of the FCPA
  • The majority owner of a private equity firm in an SEC investigation of allegedly improper expense allocation
  • A private wealth advisor in an investigation of potential insider trading

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS AT PRIOR FIRMS

  • A sell-side equity research analyst in an SEC investigation settled on favorable terms after white paper and Wells submissions
  • A hedge fund in an SEC investigation into valuation practices where the SEC terminated its investigation pre-Wells after certain irregular investigative tactics led to the recusal of a regional office
  • A major investment bank in ICE and CME investigations into the malfunction of an automated trading system that erroneously generated a large volume of futures trades, both of which settled on favorable terms
  • A hedge fund in an SEC investigation into certain allegedly irregular redemption practices, in which the Staff issued a closing letter
  • Two Dubai-based traders in SEC v.  One or More Unknown Traders in the Securities of Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (SDNY), in which our clients’ trading profits were wrongfully frozen by the SEC, we appeared to defend the case, and we obtained a voluntary dismissal of the complaint and the release of all frozen assets
  • The former chief global and U.S. equity strategist at a major investment bank in a FINRA investigation of conflict-of-interest disclosure practices, which was settled on favorable terms
  • A trader based in Estonia whose large trading profits had been frozen by the SEC because he allegedly traded on inside information about corporate transactions he stole from Business Wire’s website, for whom we negotiated a settlement that permitted the release of a significant percentage of his profits
  • A major accounting firm in a New York Attorney General’s Office Martin Act investigation of the audit of several Madoff “feeder” funds, which was terminated with no action taken
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Internal Investigations

We conduct confidential internal investigations for companies, as well as independent investigations for audit and other board committees.  We seek to get to the heart of the matter as efficiently as possible, often working under severe time constraints, with the goal of mitigating the risks to our clients.  We are…

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Representative Matters

  • The audit committee of a NASDAQ listed company in an investigation of allegations of senior executive misuse of company credit cards

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS AT PRIOR FIRMS

  • A global food manufacturer in an investigation following reports of a Customs and Border Protection investigation involving Tariff Act allegations
  • A large pharmaceutical company in an investigation concerning its relationship with a corrupt vendor and managing related government investigation
  • A major investment bank in an investigation of a whistleblower complaint by a product control professional alleging that improper procedures were employed in the price-testing of certain exchange traded derivative products
  • A special committee of the board of an investment fund in an investigation of whistleblower allegations of management fee overcharge by adviser
  • A pharmaceutical company in an investigation of allegedly unlawful marketing practices
  • An investment bank in an internal review of risk management and credit underwriting practices in connection with certain derivative products
  • A national tool manufacturer in an investigation of potential embezzlement, bribery, and theft by an employee
  • The audit committee of a NASDAQ listed technology company in an investigation of a whistleblower’s allegations of accounting irregularities and management misconduct
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Complex Civil Litigation

We represent plaintiffs and defendants in complex civil cases.  As seasoned trial lawyers, we approach each civil dispute with a strategy built around how to win the case at trial.  Where possible, we use this approach to assist in reaching better negotiated solutions.  We also have substantial experience in handling…

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Representative Matters

  • The co-founder of the consumer-products brand EOS, in breach-of-contract and breach-of-fiduciary duty litigation brought against his business partner and others in the Delaware Court of Chancery, as well as related litigation in New York Supreme Court. A copy of our complaint in the Delaware Court of Chancery is here, and a copy of our brief following a three-day, expedited, virtual trial in the case is here.
  • RKA Film Financing, LLC in a legal malpractice action against Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and Howard Schickler in New York State Supreme Court, Commercial Division.  A copy of the complaint may be found here
  • A U.K.-based distributor in both a preliminary injunction application in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and an arbitration before the International Chamber of Commerce brought by a US-based manufacturer.
  • The co-founder of a private equity firm in an ownership dispute, in which our client was locked out and purportedly terminated for cause. After being engaged, we acted quickly to protect our client’s rights.  The dispute was settled shortly before initiating litigation
  • SolarCity Corporation in a federal theft-of-trade-secrets action brought against a former SolarCity employee and a competing firm. A copy of the complaint may be found here

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS AT PRIOR FIRMS

  • A defendant pharmaceutical company in federal MDL litigation involving two state jury trials resulting in complete defense verdicts
  • A global financial services company in a two-month federal civil trial involving breach of contract and fraud claims resulting in a complete defense verdict
  • A hedge fund in a series of lawsuits and arbitrations brought by, and initiated against, former investors
  • The CEO of a major financial institution in a securities fraud class action
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Trials

Smith Villazor LLP’s founding partners have between them tried more than 40 cases to verdict.  From major criminal cases to complex commercial disputes, we have a depth of trial experience that many larger law firms lack.  Chambers USA recently praised Patrick Smith’s trial skills, with one interviewee noting: “I have…

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