The mere threat of an enforcement action can stop a company in its tracks and delay or derail important business initiatives. BuckleySandler is sensitive to the business objectives of our clients and adept at helping a company stay on track when faced with real or potential government investigations or enforcement actions.
Our enforcement practice includes representing corporate clients and individual officers and directors at every stage of government investigations and enforcement actions - including white collar criminal matters - initiated by state and federal agencies including:
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
- Department of Justice (DOJ)
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Federal Housing Finance Agency (f/k/a Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight)
- U.S. Attorneys’ Offices
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
- State attorneys general
BuckleySandler’s enforcement practice regularly defends clients against allegations involving a wide array of business contexts in federal and state grand jury investigations, trials, and appeals. In particular, we have represented clients in enforcement matters and related litigation involving a wide range of subject areas including:
- Consumer financial services
- False Claims Act, FIRREA and Qui Tam litigation
- Financial institution fraud
- Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)
- Government procurement fraud
- Insurance fraud
- Money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act
- Options backdating
- State and federal RICO laws
- Securities fraud
- Tax offenses
We have also represented corporations and their executives in connection with Congressional investigations examining industry business practices. We assist clients in responding to informal and formal Congressional inquiries and in preparing for Congressional hearings.
A number of our lawyers have held senior positions at the Department of Justice (DOJ), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Federal Reserve Board (FRB), the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the FTC.
On numerous occasions, we have successfully represented clients in enforcement actions and criminal investigations, obtained victory at trial and on appeal – including in the U.S. Supreme Court. Many of our greatest successes, however, have never become public because we were able to convince an enforcement agency not to take any action against our clients. Other representations have involved high-profile matters where we excel in developing effective legal and factual defenses and formulating and implementing strategies to minimize any collateral consequences – including public and media scrutiny.
Select Representative Matters
- Representation of Verizon Wireless in a joint CFPB, FCC and Attorney General Settlement (2015). We represented Verizon Wireless in a settlement with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and 51 Attorneys General alleging that Verizon Wireless permitted third parties to place unauthorized charges on consumers’ wireless phone bills.
- Representation of American Honda Finance Corporation in a Joint DOJ and CFPB Settlement (2015). We represented American Honda Finance Corporation in $24 million settlement with DOJ and CFPB in a fair lending matter related to dealer participation practices.
- Joint CFPB and Maryland AG Investigation (2015). We represented JPMorgan Chase Bank in a joint CFPB and Maryland Attorney General investigation into allegations that loan officers accepted leads and marketing assistance from a now-defunct title company in exchange for referrals to the title company. The investigation resulted in a settlement for less than $1 million with no admission of liability.
- Flagstar Bank CFPB Mortgage Servicing Investigation (2014). We represented Flagstar Bank in a CFPB investigation into the bank’s default servicing loss mitigation practices, including UDAAP, which resulted in a $37.5 million settlement with no admission of liability. This was the first CFPB enforcement action based on the newly promulgated mortgage servicing rules. We negotiated administrative consent order agreement, without any admission of wrongdoing on the part of the company or its employees, directors, officers or agents.
- Indirect Auto Lending Investigations (2014). We are representing multiple indirect auto finance companies (both banks and non-banks) in responding to CFPB, DOJ, and New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) investigations regarding whether such institutions may have violated New York State or federal fair lending laws through dealer discretionary pricing.
- U.S. Bank False Claims Act Investigation into FHA Lending (2014). We represented U.S. Bank in connection with a multi-year False Claims Acts (FCA) investigation of its Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insured mortgage lending practices initiated by the DOJ, the HUD Office of Inspector General (HUD-OIG), and several U.S. Attorney’s Offices, which resulted in a $200 million settlement with no admission of liability.
- Representation of Three of the Top 20 Banks in "Operation Chokepoint" (2014). The firm is representing three banks in connection with the DOJ's highly publicized enforcement initiative known as "Operation Chokepoint." The initiative targeted more than 50 banks and payment processors for potential suit under FIRREA.
- Represented National City Bank in Joint CFPB and DOJ Action (2012–2014). We represented National City Bank, and its successor-in-interest, PNC, in the very first joint CFPB and DOJ fair lending settlement resolving allegations that National City’s discretionary pricing policies in its mortgage lending business disparately impacted African American and Hispanic borrowers with respect to lending activities undertaken prior to PNC’s acquisition of National City in 2008. The settlement amount was $35 million, without civil money penalties, or forward-looking injunctive relief.
- Securities and Exchange Commission v. Mark A. Jackson and James J. Ruehlen (2012–2014). We represented of Mark Jackson, former CEO/CFO of an oilfield services company, in an SEC enforcement action being litigated in Houston federal court. In late 2012, the judge granted our Motion to Dismiss and dismissed the Complaint without prejudice. Following the SEC’s filing of an Amended Complaint and extensive discovery including almost 30 depositions, the SEC voluntarily dropped several claims against our client. A favorable settlement was reached just before trial in July 2014. The settlement did not include payment of any money by Mr. Jackson or any restriction on his future employment opportunities.
- Represented Discover in One of the First CFPB Enforcement Matters (2012). We represented Discover in a joint investigation and enforcement action by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation alleging deceptive sales practices in connection with telemarketing of protection products which offered services such as debt suspension in the event of hardship or celebratory events, debt cancellation in the event of death, identity theft protection, and wallet loss protection. The parties entered into a Consent Order in September 2012 involving remediation of $220 million, with no admission of wrongdoing by the bank. This matter was one of the first enforcement actions brought by the CFPB.
- United States of America v. John M. Mushriqui, et al. (2010–2012). We represented John M. Mushriqui in the DOJ’s largest criminal prosecution of individuals in the history of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, following the only modern use by the FBI in an FCPA case of tactics such as a sting, an informant, undercover agents, and mass use of audiovisual surveillance. The case culminated in a four-month trial in fall/winter 2011-2012, in which the Judge dismissed numerous counts against Mr. Mushriqui, including conspiracy to violate the FCPA, and two of five substantive charges of violating the FCPA. After declaring a mistrial, the Judge granted the DOJ's motion to dismiss all charges.
- Fannie Mae Securities, Derivative, and ERISA Litigation (2004–2012). We represented the former Controller of Fannie Mae in winning the dismissal of, or settling, all investigations and litigation related to the accounting errors alleged in reports by the Company’s regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), now known as the Federal Housing Finance Agency), which resulted in a $6 billion restatement announced in 2004. Subsequent investigations by the SEC, the DOJ, and the Department of Labor were resolved without adverse action. An enforcement action brought by OFHEO was settled on favorable terms without any admission of wrongdoing. A derivative lawsuit was dismissed and an ERISA class action settled on favorable terms. Most importantly, a securities fraud class action was dismissed in November 2012 on summary judgment for lack of evidence of scienter (intent to defraud), completely exonerating our client in the face of highly-publicized allegations.
- Represented SunTrust Mortgage in a $21 million DOJ fair lending settlement (2012). We represented SunTrust Mortgage in a $21 million DOJ fair lending settlement. The DOJ investigation was initiated by a referral to the DOJ from the Federal Reserve. DOJ alleged that SunTrust charged higher fees and interest rates to more than 20,000 African-American and Hispanic borrowers than to similarly situated Caucasian borrowers, allegedly resulting in overcharges that ranged from hundreds to thousands of dollars in 34 states and the District of Columbia.
- In re SCRA Settlement (2011). We successfully negotiated a consent decree for two major national lenders which allegedly failed to comply with SCRA lending requirements and guidelines. Multiple cases settled collectively, without admission of fault, for approximately $23 million.