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Jeffrey S. Johnston

Jeffrey S. Johnston Partner, Government Investigations & White Collar Criminal Defense

Jeff’s practice focuses on complex business litigation and government and internal investigations. He has tried cases in both state and federal courts and before private arbitration panels. Jeff represents companies, officers, directors, and auditors in securities litigation, DOJ and SEC investigations, and internal investigations and counseling clients on issues related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Experience Highlights

  • Representing a global engineering and construction company in all matters—an SEC investigation, securities fraud litigation, and shareholder derivative litigation—related to a financial restatement arising out of accounting for long-term construction contracts (part of team)
  • Represented a major international energy company in an 18-month, worldwide investigation related to potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act associated with the use of a freight forwarding agent (lead)
  • (S.D. Tex.) — Defended a large global steel distributor in a six-week jury trial of claims that steel distributors and steel mills conspired to boycott new entrant in the market (part of team)

Investigations & Government Enforcement Actions

  • Represented an energy company in an internal investigation into allegations of impropriety in the company’s procurement group, including conflicts of interest with major vendors and an allegation of misappropriation of company assets (lead)
  • Represented a client in an internal investigation into potential violations of the FCPA in connection with the beginning of a multi-well offshore drilling program off the coast of Namibia (lead)
  • Represented the board of directors of a large, privately held real estate development and construction company in an internal investigation into whether one of its branch offices was engaged in an office-wide scheme to defraud the company and its customers on a number of private and government-funded construction projects
  • Representing an international E&P company in an SEC investigation arising out of an acquisition (lead)
  • Represented a chemical company in an SEC investigation of a potential merger (lead)
  • Representing a stock market analyst in an SEC investigation (lead)
  • Conducted an internal investigation, in cooperation with the SEC, for a public company into allegations of potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in China and Hong Kong, and allegations of undisclosed director conflicts of interest (lead)
  • Conducted an internal investigation for a private construction company into allegations of employee fraud and overbilling government agencies (lead)
  • Conducted an internal investigation of alleged accounting fraud and employee fraud for a special committee of the board of directors of a private oil field services company (lead)
  • Conducted an expedited internal investigation for a private international company into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and federal anti-money laundering laws associated with suspicious payments in Africa (lead)
  • Represented a senior executive of a public company in a DOJ and SEC investigation into potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in Nigeria, India, Equatorial Guinea, and Mexico (lead)
  • Represented a joint venture in an internal investigation of potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with a bid on a foreign construction project in India
  • Represented a major energy company in a grand jury investigation of alleged improprieties in the hiring of a former senior government official (lead)
  • Represented a major energy company in an investigation conducted by the inspector general of a federal agency of alleged improprieties in the award of federal mineral leases (lead)

Securities Litigation

  • (Del. Ch.) — Represented an oil pipeline company and select board of directors in a bench trial; this is a shareholder derivative lawsuit involving breach of fiduciary duties; decision pending (trial team member)
  • (S.D. Tex.); (5th Cir.) — Represented a medical device manufacturer in shareholder litigation alleging that the company fraudulently accounted for its stock option expenses and misled investors about the market for its device and the prospects for FDA approval; this matter was twice dismissed by the trial court and affirmed by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals (part of team)
  • (S.D. Cal.) — Represented the former chairman of the board of a public company in a number of securities fraud class actions, shareholder derivative cases, and an SEC investigation; working with California counsel, obtained the dismissal of securities fraud claims brought in federal court seeking billions of dollars in damages (lead v&e lawyer)
  • (S.D. Tex.) — Defended a national accounting firm in class action shareholder litigation, alleging that the accounting firm committed securities fraud, and a related SEC investigation; obtained dismissal with prejudice of the securities fraud claims, and the SEC took no action against our client (part of team)

Commercial Disputes & Antitrust

  • Represented an energy company in an arbitration proceeding related to the financing of an offshore oil and gas project, obtaining a take-nothing award in the client’s favor (lead)


Contact Details

Houston

T +1.713.758.2198
F +1.713.615.5920
jjohnston@velaw.com
1001 Fannin Street
Suite 2500
Houston, TX 77002
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Jeff's Practices

  • The University of Texas School of Law, J.D. with honors, 1997 (Associate Editor, Texas Law Review; Order of the Coif)
  • Creighton University, B.S.B.A. Economics and Finance magna cum laude, 1994 (Beta Gamma Sigma)
  • Admitted to practice: Texas
  • Chambers USA, Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Texas), 2017 and 2018
  • Legal 500 U.S., Securities: Shareholder Litigation, 2014 and 2015
  • Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), 2013–2015
  • Selected to the Texas Rising Stars list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), 2005–2006, 2008–2012
  • Board of Directors: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Texas Gulf Coast Chapter; Jesuit Volunteer Corps. South
  • Member: Section of Litigation, Antitrust Section, American Bar Association; Section of Business Litigation, State Bar of Texas; Antitrust Section, Houston Bar Association