Phil Bezanson helps clients navigate some of the most complicated enforcement, cybersecurity, data privacy, litigation, and regulatory challenges. He primarily represents companies, senior management and boards of directors as well as individuals in compliance, internal investigations, regulatory enforcement, and complex criminal and civil litigations. He has worked on a number of recent high-profile cases, including the Millennium Tower litigation in San Francisco, the Deepwater Horizon explosion, BitConnect-related investigations, the George Washington Bridge lane closure, General Motors ignition switch and UnaOil corruption investigations, "Pay to Play" cases in New York, New Mexico and Illinois, as well as matters related to ransomware attacks, data breach responses, data protection, cryptocurrency, stock options backdating, insider trading, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and export control laws.
Phil regularly conducts internal investigations and defends corporations and executives facing allegations of business-related misconduct or regulatory violations. He also assists national and international corporate clients and their Boards of Directors with a wide variety of compliance matters including anti-bribery and corruption, cybersecurity and data privacy, export controls and trade sanctions, insider trading and antitrust enforcement. Phil has been successful in convincing potential plaintiffs, prosecutors and regulators to abandon investigations before charges are filed. He counsels clients through each step in the defense process, from creating and auditing robust, specifically-tailored compliance programs, guiding clients through unexpected financial, environmental and cyber-related incidents, to preparing clients and their employees to meet with prosecutors or regulatory agencies, to making decisions on negotiation, settlement, trial and appeals.
Phil spent nearly ten years working in Bracewell's New York Office before he moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2015, where he is managing partner of Bracewell's Seattle Office. Phil is also the co-host of the Bracewell Sidebar, a podcast devoted to government enforcement and investigations with a focus on white-collar criminal defense.
Recent Notable Matters
Complex Civil and Criminal Litigation
Millennium Tower Association v. Mission Street Development LLC, et al., Case No. CGC-17-557830 (San Francisco Superior Court) — representing a global cement waterproofing technology company in connection with lawsuits related to the Millennium Tower development project in San Francisco
In re SEC v. Arcturus Corporation et al, No. 17-10503 (5th Cir. 2019) — Retained by promoter of oil and gas ventures after trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the SEC for appeal to the Fifth Circuit. The SEC alleged this was not a joint venture, rather a security, and since the promoters were not licensed brokers, had a per se violation of the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 and were liable for disgorgement and civil penalties. In a unanimous decision, the Court reversed the summary judgment and sent back to the district court for trial.
Multiple private investment funds and individuals — pay-to-play investigations conducted by the Department of Justice, the New York State Attorney General's Office and the SEC, and related civil litigations
International tobacco company — nationwide antitrust litigation and related criminal charges resulting in dismissal of indictment
Cybersecurity and Incident Response
Global Mining company — advised on all aspects of a ransomware attack response, including international regulatory reporting requirements and associated remediation efforts
Global biotech company — advised on all aspects of a ransomware attack response, including coordination with cloud services provider and law enforcement to secure exfiltrated data
Investment bank — advised on all aspects of cyber incident response, including incident reporting best practices with regulators, law enforcement, business partners, and individuals
Major energy company — cyber incident response
Various energy sector companies — responding to cyber-attacks involving business email compromise schemes and other data breaches
Various public entities — responding to cyber-attacks involving business email compromise schemes and other data breaches
Leading oilfield services company — federal criminal investigation that arose from the Deepwater Horizon explosion
Independent oil and gas company — federal criminal investigation that arose from a workplace explosion
Insider trading investigation — successfully represented an individual in connection with an SEC investigation into the purchase of call options ahead of public M&A announcements
Cryptocurrency promoter — successfully represented a prominent cryptocurrency promoter in connection with DOJ and SEC investigations related to BitConnect
Various energy sector companies — internal investigations in connection with alleged FCPA violations in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East
Venture capital firm and its principal — SEC investigation concerning disclosures to investors and valuation of assets
Publicly traded technology company — internal investigation in connection with alleged OFAC violations
Major petroleum refinery company — representation in connection with various Renewable Identification Number biofuel investigation
Major retail company — design and implementation of a global anti-bribery and corruption policy
International energy company — design and implementation of a global anti-bribery and corruption policy
Fortune 200 company — stock options backdating inquiries resulting in no criminal charges and no monetary penalties
International aviation company — criminal antitrust investigation
Head of the auction rate securities desk at a financial institution — successfully extinguished a Wells Notice in connection with an SEC auction rate securities investigation
Multiple chief financial officers of public companies — investigations for accounting fraud and manipulation of financial statements and SEC filings
High-level General Motors engineering executive — DOJ ignition switch investigation
Former staffer for Governor Chris Christie — witness in the George Washington Bridge closure investigation, and related federal criminal trial
Publications and Speeches
“Only You Can Prevent Cyber-attacks: How to Spot Fires and Put Them Out,” The Bond Buyer, March 26, 2018.
“Government Investigations and Technology: Innovation and Preparation,” Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, November 17, 2017.
“Criminal Investigations and Technology: Protecting Data and Rights,” Washington Association of Corporate Counsel Tech Summit, June 8, 2017.
"Tech Rally - Industry Giants Back Google's Play to Protect Data," Corporate Compliance Insights, March 15, 2017.
“How to Minimize Your Company’s Legal Exposure From Data Breaches,” Oil & Gas Financial Journal, February 20, 2017.
"In Salman, Supreme Court Rejects Higher Evidentiary Burden on Prosecutors in Insider Trading Cases," Inside Counsel, January 9, 2017.
“Attorney-Client Privilege in WA No Longer Applies When Employment Ends,” Corporate Compliance Insights, December 20, 2016.
“Recent Cases Every In-House Counsel Should Know About,” Washington State Bar Association, October 28, 2016.
“Seven Tips for Preparing Associates for Trial,” NWSidebar, September 6, 2016.
"Government Reach Does Not Extend to Information Stored Overseas," Corporate Compliance Insights, August 8, 2016.
“Avoiding the Pitfalls: Ethical Issues for In-House Lawyers – the GM Ignition Switch Case Study,” Washington ACC, July 14, 2016.
"DOJ Announces First Declinations After Implementing FCPA Pilot Program," Corporate Compliance Insights, June 22, 2016.
"Vimpelcom's Global FCPA Settlement: A Multinational Resolution," Corporate Compliance Insights, June 17, 2016.
“The Criminalization of Process Safety,” Inside Counsel, March 15, 2016.
“FCPA Year in Review” Momentum Webinar Series, January 21, 2016.
"Combating Fraud at Home and Abroad," Oil & Gas Monitor, December 23, 2015.
“Strengthening the Audit, Legal & Compliance Officer Relationship to Ensure Collaboration Throughout Your Internal Organization” Oil & Gas Anti-Corruption Compliance Exchange, September 22, 2015.
"Preventative Medicine: Internal Investigations Strengthen Compliance Programs and Minimize External Inquiries," Pharmaceutical Compliance Monitor, January 9, 2015.