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Jeffrey S. Johnston

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

Jeff’s practice focuses on shareholder 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 counsels clients on issues related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. He also advises clients on various cybersecurity issues, including governance, incident response, and data breach notifications.

Experience Highlights

  • Represented 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 
  • 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
  • (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

Investigations & Government Enforcement Actions

  • Representing a master limited partnership in an SEC investigation related to material weaknesses in the company’s internal controls over financial reporting
  • 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
  • Represented an energy company 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
  • 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
  • Represented a chemical company in an SEC investigation of a potential merger
  • Representing a stock market analyst in an SEC investigation
  • 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
  • Conducted an internal investigation for a private construction company into allegations of employee fraud and overbilling government agencies
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 cabinet secretary 
  • 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

Cybersecurity & Data Privacy

  • Advising an energy company in the investigation of suspected unauthorized access to its internal network 
  • Advised a healthcare company that suffered a data breach on legal issues related to incident response and notifications
  • Advised a retail company that suffered a data breach due to the actions of a third-party contractor on the legal issues related to incident response and notifications
  • Advised a private equity fund that suffered a data breach on legal issues related to incident response and notifications

Securities Litigation

  • (S.D. Tex.) — Represented a global services and technology company and its officers and directors in a securities fraud suit alleging that the company misled investors about its compliance with international anti-corruption laws; this matter was dismissed 
  • (S.D. Tex.) —  Representing the former directors of an independent exploration and production company in a securities fraud suit alleging that the directors mislead investors about an ultra-deepwater drilling program, a speculative derivative trading strategy, and impairments to the company’s assets 
  • (S.D. Tex.) — Representing a pipeline company and certain of its officers and directors in shareholder litigation arising out of a crude oil pipeline leak; Plaintiffs allege that that the defendants falsely claimed to have a comprehensive, effective environmental and regulatory compliance program to prevent and remediate oil spills; this matter was dismissed
  • (S.D. Tex.) — Representing a manufacturer of fiber optic networking products and its officers in Sections 10(b) and 20(a) claims alleging the company misled investors about its sales to its largest customer 
  • (S.D. Tex.) — Represented 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
  • (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
  • (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), 2017–2019
  • Legal 500 U.S., Securities: Shareholder Litigation, 2014 and 2015
  • Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), 2013–2015, 2018
  • Selected to the Texas Rising Stars list, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters), 2005–2006, 2008–2012
  • The Best Lawyers in America© (Woodward/White, Inc.), Commercial Litigation, 2019
  • Member: Section of Litigation, Antitrust Section, American Bar Association; Section of Business Litigation, State Bar of Texas; Antitrust Section, Houston Bar Association