Bracewell’s White Collar Defense, Internal Investigations and Regulatory Enforcement Practice lawyers guide business institutions, executives and employees through the challenges associated with investigation and prosecution. Federal and state prosecutors and regulators, armed with new statutes and increased penalties, are placing institutions and individuals under increased scrutiny. As market commentators have noted, Bracewell lawyers have “distinguished themselves in ways unmatched from many other firms.” We conduct internal investigations, defend clients in criminal, civil and regulatory investigations or prosecutions and assist with corporate compliance programs.
Our battle-tested team includes a former federal judge and attorneys who have served in leadership positions in the U. S. Department of Justice (DOJ), including Chief of the Criminal Fraud Section; the U.S. Attorney's Offices for the Southern District of New York and the Northern and Southern Districts of Texas; the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); the New York County District Attorneys' Offices; and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). We handle matters related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, environmental crimes, broker-dealer violations, accounting and financial fraud, government contracts and False Claims Act/qui tam matters, healthcare fraud, tax and antitrust issues.
Cyber preparedness is necessary to mitigate the risk arising from a cyberattack. With the proliferation of e-commerce, electronic record keeping, and improved data collection techniques, the incidence of cyber intrusions have increased such that it is not a question of whether a data breach for any given system will occur, but when. Twenty-first century data breaches involve sophisticated attacks on the network and information systems which underpin modern commercial and corporate activities for companies of all sizes. This malicious activity affects all types of entities including retail companies, financial institutions, investment advisors, energy companies, governmental agencies, and other commercial or business ventures.
At Bracewell, we work with our clients to develop and implement information security plans to minimize risk and to insulate management from the regulatory and shareholder scrutiny that inevitably follows a breach. Preemptive activity can also streamline the time and expense of the response effort in case of a breach by ensuring that a rapid response plan is already in place and available for implementation on short notice. And when data breaches occur, we assist clients in managing all aspects of the incident, including the deployment of effective media and governmental communications to mitigate and minimize repercussions, both financial and reputational. Our team is comprised of a diverse array of lawyers across a range of disciplines that reflect the myriad client needs in the cyber arena, from former prosecutors to seasoned civil litigators and strategic communications experts.
At Bracewell, we counsel our clients, who are increasingly exploring new business opportunities around the globe, about what to expect from Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement and how to navigate these legal challenges within a complex international business environment. We help U.S. and multinational companies at every stage of the compliance and investigation process, reviewing delicate transactions and conducting due diligence on potential foreign business partners or agents, establishing FCPA compliance programs, and working with enforcement officials when sensitive situations arise.
We work with companies in virtually every sector of the global economy, including energy, aerospace, technology, manufacturing and business services. We notably represent companies that do business in high risk regions, where the use of joint ventures, sub-contractors and other third parties is commonplace and where export controls are required. In recent years, our lawyers have assisted clients with FCPA concerns in China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Europe, Dubai, Kuwait, India, and Mexico. Whether a company is seeking compliance advice or is under investigation, we possess the experience and knowledge to help.
In an environment of increased regulatory vigilance and enhanced financial incentives to whistleblowers, corporations must proactively ensure compliance with applicable statutes and regulations. Bracewell’s lawyers routinely conduct internal investigations worldwide for companies in the financial, technology, energy, insurance, and retail industries to contain and resolve issues such as corporate governance practices and procedures, directors' duties and responsibilities, corporate codes of conduct, and compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and financial exchange regulations, as well as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
At Bracewell, we are particularly well-suited to serve as Monitors and Independent Auditors in a wide variety of matters because of our partners’ previous experience at the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Offices and District Attorney’s Offices. Our attorneys’ management of investigators and prosecutors in the public sector, and their knowledge of sophisticated investigatory methods, have enabled them to develop skills critical to performing duties as a Monitor.
Of particular note is Judge Barbara Jones, who presided as a federal judge in the Southern District of New York for 17 years. Judge Jones was a member of the American Bar Association Corporate Monitor Standards Committee and assisted in authoring the ABA-approved standards for monitorships. She also served as the chair of the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel, created by Congress in 2013. In that position, she was tasked to review and assess the investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of sexual assaults in the U.S. military.
Recent Notable Matters
Southern District of New York — Appointed as a Special Master by SDNY Judge Kimba Wood to manage the privilege review of documents seized from Donald Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen. Judge Jones led a small team of Bracewell partners that quickly and securely reviewed physical documents inside a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (“SCIF”) to ensure necessary security of information.
FCC Office of General Counsel — appointment as independent compliance officer to review and evaluate Charter Communication’s compliance with the conditions the FCC placed on Charter when it granted approval for the transfer of licenses in connection with the acquisition of Time Warner Cable, Inc. and Bright House Networks.
Oil and gas exploration and production company — assisting with cyber preparedness matters
General aviation company — criminal matter and FCPA compliance matter related to international operations
Global asset management firm — drafting of an information security policy and an incident response plan
District Council of New York City (the “Carpenters Union”) — monitorship before the Honorable Richard Berman of the Southern District of New York. In her role representing the monitored entity, Judge Jones works with the court-appointed monitor and with the assigned Assistant U.S. Attorneys to improve and maintain the smooth functioning and progression of the monitorship.
Auto finance company — DOJ investigation into alleged violations of the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA)
Chief financial officer of a public company — investigation for accounting fraud and manipulation of financial statements and SEC filings
U.S. private equity fund — internal investigation into allegations of foreign commercial bribery by employees
Leading oilfield services company — federal criminal investigation that arose from the Deepwater Horizon explosion
Multinational Corporation — internal investigation and multiple state pension fund investigations
Large corporation — multiple internal investigations into allegations of improper payments to foreign government officials by foreign subsidiaries in numerous countries
Electrical and telecommunications firm — ethics and compliance counsel in an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney
Former staffer for Governor Chris Christie — George Washington Bridge closure investigation, and a different former staffer and a former executive of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in a federal criminal trial
Fuel transportation company — Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) criminal investigation
Global retailer — SEC inquiry into public disclosures and a putative class action asserting alleged securities fraud
Global subsea solutions and offshore engineering services company — Office of Foreign Assets Control, Department of Commerce, and DOJ investigation into allegations of exports to Iran and Cuba in violation of U.S. economic sanctions and the unlicensed shipments of controlled items to multiple locations around the world
Hedge fund — internal investigation and the New York State Attorney General's pay-to-play investigations
Large public company — independent internal investigation into allegations of corporate malfeasance by the chief executive officer and global head of procurement
Southern District of New York — appointment as Lead Master in the case of US Bank v. UBS Real Estate Securities, Inc. to oversee the review of thousands of loan files to determine whether there exist breaches by UBS of certain obligations related to the quality of the loans.
High-level General Motors engineering executive — DOJ ignition switch investigation
Insurance companies and their audit committees — internal investigations in response to regulatory inquiries and whistleblower allegations
International utility company’s Board of Directors — conducting a world-wide FCPA compliance review and the presentation of findings and recommendations
New York City Department of Investigation (DOI) and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) — appointment to monitor a mid-sized construction company subject to a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with the New York County District Attorney’s Office involving violations of the MWBE laws. In this role, Judge Jones reviewed the company’s compliance code, conducted compliance training and set up a hotline for internal reporting of corruption. She also reviewed and approved business practices and procedures to ensure the integrity of all contracts, to include review of the books and records to identify any potential payroll fraud and abuses.*
Privately owned real estate firm — drafting of an information security policy and management of the fallout of the loss of personally identifiable information (PII)
Real estate investment firm — client was victimized by a cyberattack
U.S. government contractor — internal investigation relating to possible FCPA violations in the Middle East
Retailer — management of government relations and strategic communications after the detection of an external data breach
Southern District of New York — appointment as the Independent Review Officer for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union (IBT). In her role as Independent Review Officer, Judge Jones acts as an independent monitor over the IBT, the largest union in the world of 1.5 million members, and exercises disciplinary authority over the IBT relating to internal corruption charges, disciplinary decisions and reviews trusteeships imposed by the IBT over local unions, in addition to other investigative responsibilities.
International energy company — government contracting concerns
U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York — appointment as an examiner to investigate allegations that the court-appointed Patient Care Ombudsman for debtor Daytop Village mischaracterized conditions of the debtor’s operations in his reports and attempted to improperly influence the debtor in connection with fee applications*
Queensborough Public Library Board — internal investigation of whistleblower allegations*
* Work completed prior to Bracewell