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Government Investigations & White Collar Criminal Defense

With a continued increase in government investigations conducted by the Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and other state and federal regulatory bodies, it is critical to have legal counsel that knows these agencies and follows the enforcement trends and investigation outcomes with an eye toward how they intersect with your company’s business activities.

Vinson & Elkins represents corporations, audit committees, boards, and executives in high stakes investigations and litigation. In recent years, there has been increasing scrutiny and aggressiveness by government agencies. Our Antitrust, Corporate Governance, Environmental, Government Contracts, Securities, and Tax lawyers collaborate to assist clients in these investigations. Given V&E’s global profile, we have particular experience in international matters involving criminal and civil antitrust investigations, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the False Claims Act, securities, health care, and criminal and civil theft of trade secrets. We represent both U.S. companies operating abroad, and foreign companies that understand the compliance risks of doing business in the United States. We conduct internal investigations, respond to grand jury and governmental regulatory subpoenas, handle grand jury proceedings and search warrants, negotiate with prosecutors, enforcement staff, and other regulators, and defend clients in criminal pleas, trials, and sentencing.

V&E lawyers assist clients in proactively establishing compliance and auditing programs that satisfy regulatory requirements to help avoid major government investigations. We also defend our clients in civil or administrative litigation that may be filed by the government or private parties as a result of a criminal investigation, including civil fraud suits, qui tam actions, antitrust actions, securities suits, and suspension and debarment. Finally, we assist clients in connection with Congressional and agency inquiries into regulatory compliance and other matters.

With a team of former federal prosecutors and defense lawyers experienced in conducting internal investigations and representing corporations, executives, and boards, we provide our clients with valuable advice to find practical and appropriate solutions in connection with investigations and white collar cases.

Experience Highlights

  • Represents the Audit Committee of a public technology company in connection with criminal and civil investigations being conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) 

  • Represented a major Japanese auto parts maker in civil and criminal investigations and class action litigation regarding alleged price fixing and participation in an international cartel

  • Represented Big Four accounting firm in connection with its audits of an aerostructures manufacturer’s financial statements and cost of completion accounting for long-term manufacturing contracts and forward loss provisions, and the SEC’s investigation of potential fraud in those financial statements; matter ended with no charges filed

  • Represented a foreign corporation in a DOJ investigation of criminal international antitrust violations, including price-fixing and global market allocation in the maritime construction industry; client was not charged and ancillary civil litigation was resolved favorably

  • (D.C. Cir.); (D.D.C.) — Represented a government contractor in qui tam action in which V&E successfully obtained two writs of mandamus vindicating the contractor’s claim of attorney-client privilege over materials created during an internal investigation led by company lawyers; subsequently won summary judgment on all counts

  • Defending a large midstream energy company in a U.S. EPA investigation relating to hazardous waste generation and disposal practices

  • Represented a defendant in the largest federal campaign finance fraud case ever brought against an individual

  • 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 a major oil company in connection with an SEC inquiry concerning the company’s analysis of the requirements for establishing reserves and disclosures of its contingent liabilities arising out of a major oil spill; succeeded in convincing the SEC to conclude its inquiry without any enforcement action

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