Financial Services and Investment Management Litigation & Enforcement
Taking on critical litigation and regulatory matters
Leading financial services companies, investment advisors, fund companies, boards and trustees, broker-dealers, brokerage firms and others turn to Dechert’s litigation and enforcement lawyers to take on their most critical litigation and regulatory matters.
With dedicated partners in six U.S. offices from coast to coast — and drawing upon a global financial services practice across the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East — our litigators have both the multi-jurisdictional capabilities and the broad knowledge of securities laws necessary to assist clients through regulatory and litigation disputes arising anywhere in the world.
Our firm has a particularly diverse practice in representing both registered and private funds clients in litigation challenges at the state and federal levels. We also often help these clients deal with high-stakes enforcement actions, regulatory proceedings and internal investigations.
While Dechert’s capabilities in financial services and investment management litigation and enforcement are comprehensive, there are a number of areas for which we are especially well known.
Our representative clients include:
Aberdeen Asset Management
Abigail Adams Bank
AIG Financial Products
American Independence Funds
American Savings Bank
Bank of America
Bayou Hedge Funds
Commerce Bank/Harrisburg, NA
Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago
Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle
Independence Federal Bank
Investment Company Institute
J. Ezra Merkin, Head of Gabriel Capital Corporation
John Hancock Advisors
Lincoln National Funds
Munder Capital Management
Omega Investment Advisors
Sun Capital Advisors
UBS Pace Funds
Whitney Bank NA
We defend asset managers — notably mutual funds, independent directors, investment advisers and related entities— in matters that have challenged core industry practices: high-stakes class actions and derivative litigation in state and federal courts, as well as enforcement proceedings before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and state agencies.
One example of this was our deployment of a novel argument involving the Securities Litigation Uniform Standards Act (SLUSA), which persuaded the court to dismiss a complaint against our client with prejudice. The decision effectively shut an open door for new litigation against the fund industry. (Northstar Financial Advisors, Inc. v. Schwab Investments et al.) Also, in the recent wave of excessive-fee complaints brought under Section 36(b) of the 1940 Act, we were the first firm to convince a plaintiff to dismiss with prejudice, and without any settlement consideration. (North Valley GI Medical Group et al. v. Prudential Investments LLC)
Banking and financial institutions
We defend banks, thrifts and other financial institutions plus officers, directors and professionals in civil and administrative litigation brought under federal and state banking, consumer and securities laws and regulations.
We represent both major and regional broker-dealers in disputes with customers primarily in arbitration, and in controversies between member firms over issues such as the departure of registered representatives.
Commodities And Derivatives
We have extensive experience in defending class claims alleging market manipulation under the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA). Our team has resolved claims involving a range of contractual, tort and statutory liability theories, including claims alleging improper or fraudulent valuations, risk disclosures and collateral descriptions.
We’ve also litigated or resolved disputes for some of the largest financial institutions and investment firms in the world arising from the sale, use and performance of a wide spectrum of derivative products.
Our litigators work closely with our commodities and derivatives lawyers — themselves leaders in the creation and regulation of derivative products encompassing all commodities and asset classes — to help clients resolve derivative-related disputes.
Many of our lawyers previously served in government, where they handled hundreds of federal bank receiverships and developed the federal policies relating to receivership actions against directors, officers and third parties. This gives us special insight into how to best defend directors, officers and professionals of failed financial institutions against Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and inspector general investigations and civil, criminal and administrative litigation.
We also defend D&Os in derivative suits and class actions involving usurpation of corporate opportunity, governance and controlling shareholder issues, as well as in bondholder and creditor matters.
We provide comprehensive representation before the Federal Reserve Board, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), FDIC, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Department of Justice (DOJ), National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and similar federal agencies, as well as in most states.
Our litigators have handled parallel civil, criminal and administrative proceedings involving a wide range of alleged violations:
Abusive sales and trading practices
Disclosure, internal control and governance issues
Fair lending and other consumer protection law violations
Money laundering and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) violations
Unsafe and unsound conditions
Failed bank receiverships
We’ve long counseled companies regarding Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation (FSLIC), Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC) and FDIC receivership issues. And many of our lawyers were involved in the seizure and receivership of hundreds of failed banks as government officials. As a result, we’re regularly engaged to advise in investor, borrower and related claims in FDIC bank receiverships, as well as in related claims and litigation arising from the bankruptcy of holding companies.
We have extensive experience in fair lending matters, having represented financial institutions in numerous investigations and proceedings pursued by bank regulatory agencies and the DOJ. We’ve also written the book on the subject: The Fair Lending Guide, a complete review of fair lending legal principles and governmental and private actions.
Global regulatory enforcement
Our team includes a core of former federal prosecutors and officials from the SEC and FINRA — vital experience for representing clients in matters before both of these agencies and state agencies. We handle a wide range of issues arising from:
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
Investment Advisers Act of 1940
Investment Company Act of 1940
Public Company Accounting Oversight Board rules
Securities Act of 1933
Securities and Exchange Commission
Securities Exchange Act of 1934
State securities laws
Dechert is one of the only law firms capable of providing high-end services in multiple jurisdictions — a distinction recognized by the firms outside the U.S. that increasingly want our help in internal and government investigations with potentially global ramifications.
Hedge fund litigation is an integral part of our practice. We represent hedge funds and their directors and officers in a wide range of litigation and enforcement matters. These include government investigations and actions brought by the DOJ, SEC, FINRA and state attorneys general, as well as securities class action litigation in state and federal courts.
Dechert represents primary insurers, reinsurers and insurance brokers, as well as their directors and officers, in litigation and enforcement proceedings. These include securities class action litigation in state and federal courts; government investigations and actions brought by the DOJ, SEC, FINRA and state attorneys general; and internal investigations and related class actions and criminal litigation involving insurance brokerage commissions and allegations of bid-rigging.
Our insurance litigators work closely with their Dechert colleagues who regularly represent insurance clients in non-litigation matters. We’re one of the few law firms with a substantial variable products practice, while our insurance products and insurance funds groups represent numerous mutual funds that underlie insurance products and broker-dealers that distribute such products.
Oversight of corporate boards and audit committees has risen significantly since the enactment of Sarbanes-Oxley in 2002 and Dodd-Frank in 2010. We handle internal investigations on behalf of companies and their boards of directors relating to regulatory violations, disclosure issues, whistleblower matters, money laundering, insider transactions, financial statement irregularities, regulatory filings, market timing and insider trading issues.
Our experience in negotiating and working with enforcement authorities, including the SEC’s Asset Management Unit, is exceptional. We also have decades of experience with the full range of fund-related regulatory proceedings, including:
FINRA investor arbitrations
State attorneys general and regulator investigations
Derivative demands and special litigation committees
Dechert represents real estate investment trusts, as well as their directors and officers, in litigation, investigations and enforcement proceedings. These include government investigations and actions, as well as class and commercial litigation in state and federal courts and in arbitration proceedings.