Michael A. Asaro focuses on U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigations, white-collar criminal defense, corporate internal investigations and commercial litigation.
Practice & Background
Mr. Asaro has extensive litigation and investigatory experience involving matters arising under the federal securities laws, including insider trading, market manipulation, accounting irregularities, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations, and broker-dealer and investment advisor regulation. Prior to joining Akin Gump, Mr. Asaro served for five years as a federal prosecutor and four years as an enforcement attorney at the SEC.
Mr. Asaro is a former assistant U.S. attorney from the Eastern District of New York. He served there as deputy chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Section during a period when the office prosecuted numerous complex and high-profile securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, bribery and money laundering cases. In addition to his supervisory duties, Mr. Asaro was the lead prosecutor responsible for several such matters, including a trial that ended in the convictions of the ringleaders of a $20 million “boiler room” scheme, a groundbreaking insider trading prosecution of a managing director of an international investment bank who short-sold stock in advance of PIPE announcements, and a wide-ranging investigation of bribery and self-dealing in the “stock loan” industry that resulted in indictments and guilty pleas of approximately 30 defendants.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Asaro served as a branch chief in the SEC’s New York office, where he supervised staff attorneys working on a wide variety of regulatory investigations and enforcement actions. He was the lead counsel for many of these investigations, including a market manipulation investigation that resulted in fraud charges against a billion-dollar mutual fund and a financial fraud investigation that resulted in a settled regulatory action against a major health insurance company. Also during his tenure at the SEC, Mr. Asaro was appointed as a special assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he was part of the trial team that successfully prosecuted the former CEO of a publicly traded company who orchestrated a multimillion-dollar “pump and dump” securities fraud scheme.
Mr. Asaro received his B.S. from Boston University. He earned his J.D. magna cum laude from Brooklyn Law School, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the Brooklyn Journal of International Law.
Mr. Asaro’s recent representations include:
- representing analyst in connection with investigations by the SEC, DOJ and Congress into issues related to the application of the insider trading rules to the political intelligence industry under the STOCK Act
- defending a proprietary trading firm in an SEC investigation of an employee’s alleged circulation of a false rumor regarding a public company; the matter was resolved without any charges against the firm despite a high-profile enforcement action against the employee
- defending a multibillion-dollar hedge fund and its founder in connection with a significant insider dealing investigation by the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) that raised novel issues related to distinctions between the U.S. and U.K. securities laws
- representing the CFO of an NYSE-listed company in connection with insider trading and a false-disclosure investigation by the New York Attorney General’s Office; obtained a dismissal with prejudice of a related class action complaint against the client
- defending hedge fund in private lawsuit involving allegations of illegal short-selling scheme; obtained a dismissal of the case in its entirety on behalf of client
- defending multi-billion dollar investment fund in a significant Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) market manipulation enforcement proceeding
- representing investment fund in a precedent setting proxy litigation against a multi-billion dollar technology company; obtained injunctive relief prohibiting company from holding shareholder vote in a manner that would have been unfair to client and other stockholders
- defending hedge funds and their principals, portfolio managers and analysts in numerous, different SEC and DOJ insider trading investigations
- defending clients in a variety of different CFTC and futures exchange investigations related to market manipulation, wash trades, prearranged trading and position limit violations
- representing public companies and their employees in DOJ and SEC investigations of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
- conducting an internal investigation on behalf of a large international corporation of bribery allegations raised by the DOJ against a high-level employee
- representing a global financial institution in connection with FINRA investigations of embezzlement and unauthorized trading schemes by firm employees
- representing a state agency in connection with an SEC investigation of alleged municipal bond offering fraud
- representing hedge funds in connection with SEC investigations related to the valuation of illiquid asset-backed securities
- representing an international investment bank in connection with an internal investigation of mismarking allegations in the commodities space
- conducting an internal investigation on behalf of the Board of Directors of a credit ratings agency regarding potential disclosure issues related to the ratings of residential mortgage-backed securities
- representing multiple witnesses in connection with a DOJ public corruption prosecution of a New York state senator
- representing registered investment advisors during the course of numerous on-site inspections by the SEC’s examination staff.
Awards & Accolades
- Recognized as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the areas of white-collar crime and government investigations, in 2013
- Recognized in New York Super Lawyers, 2011 and 2012
- Profiled by Securities Law 360
- Profiled by BNA’s Securities Regulation & Law Report.
- Moderated Insider Trading Roundtable at the HFM US Legal Summit, June 25, 2013
- Spoke on “Insider Trading Laws – A Comparative Analysis Across Jurisdictions: USA, UK, and HK” at the Hong Kong Securities and Investment Institute in Hong Kong, May 22, 2013
- Participated in a panel on enforcement trends involving investment advisers at the “White Collar Crime: Prosecutors and Regulators Speak” PLI conference, October 2010.