Marc Mukasey, a prominent white-collar defense attorney, and two other partners from Greenberg Traurig announced Wednesday the official launch of a boutique law firm, Mukasey Frenchman & Sklaroff LLP. The firm is “steeped” in financial services representations, “especially those that have potentially criminal consequences,” Mukasey told ThinkAdvisor in an interview.
Besides handling corporate cases involving Securities and Exchange Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority malfeasance, Mukasey is also mulling representing those involved in the recent multimillion-dollar college admissions scandal that has ensnared celebrities and financial executives.
While “not involved yet,” Mukasey said, “we’re in some discussions with some folks.”
Mukasey, who also represents President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization in a couple of matters, including the case against Trump’s charitable foundation brought by the New York Attorney General’s office, has also represented a major corporation in the Deepwater Horizon explosion. His father is Michael Mukasey, who was US Attorney General under President George W. Bush from 2007-2009.
As to how Mukasey, a former SEC enforcement lawyer and ex-chief in the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, feels about the college admissions’ scandal and the unfolding legal cases, he said, “These are the kinds of cases you would not have necessarily seen 20 or 25 years ago, [when] there was a lot more violent crime on the streets. I think this stuff would have been dealt with administratively.”
That being said, he continued, “they are well-investigated cases, and bribery is bribery.”
Mukasey said he’s seen first-hand how the Justice Department sometimes overreaches, pointing to his client, the former Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, “who was swept up unfairly and unjustly, in my opinion, in all the hoopla surrounding the bribery of athletes to go to different colleges.”
While Pitino was not charged in the probe by the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office, “he lost his job and his reputation took a hit. I think that if you’re a prosecutor you have to be careful how far you extend these cases.”
Mukasey Frenchman & Sklaroff will represent leading executives, financial services clients, notable personalities in sports, business, media and politics, as well as public and private corporations.
The firm – whose partners include Mukasey, Robert Frenchman and Jeffrey Sklaroff – will focus on white-collar matters, complex litigation and regulatory enforcement proceedings.
“We’re going to stay lean, but we’re going to recruit more people” in the next year, Mukasey said.
The SEC and FINRA corporate representations being handled now by the firm involve public companies, he said.
Mukasey’s recent criminal trial victories defending white collar individuals, include the first-ever acquittal in a commodities “spoofing” trial in U.S. v. Flotron and the successful trial defense of a bond trader in U.S. v. Gramins.
“We are getting ready to retry, we think, the mortgage-backed securities case with a trader from Nomura,” he continued, referring to the case against Nomura Securities International Inc. bond trader Michael Gramins, who was found guilty last year of one conspiracy count after a trial in Hartford, Conn., and cleared of six fraud counts. “The government only got one conviction out of eight counts at trial. We got the conviction thrown out after trial. The government appealed and if that decision is upheld, as we expect, there will be a new trial. ”
Both Mukasey and Frenchman were successful in getting a Wells Notice withdrawn that was submitted by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission involving a trader at brokerage firm last year. “That case is over and never became public,” Mukasey said.
As to whether this is a peak time for white collar investigations, Mukasey replied: “I think it is. What you’re seeing is the criminalization of conduct that used to be considered either legitimate or something that was dealt with in the industry itself, whatever industry it is, or, at the most, something that was dealt with in a regulatory manner.”
He added: “With the decrease in violent crime nationwide, we’re seeing a lot more criminalization of business conduct.”
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