In Conversation: Akin Gump White Collar Defense Partner Parvin Moyne

Parvin Moyne joined Akin Gump’s white collar defense and government investigations practice in late 2015 from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Here, she speaks about her practice, how her prior experience informs her work and a common misconception about white collar practitioners.

Q: How would you describe your practice?

Parvin Moyne: I’m a member of the global investigations group, where I help people in their interactions with the government—and, if need be, adverse to the government—as well as in their internal investigations. I’ve been working on a wide array of issues for clients, both individuals and businesses, where there is some government involvement or potential government involvement, whether it be a regulator like the SEC or the FTC or criminal authorities at the Department of Justice, or one of the local federal or state prosecutors’ offices. I have been advising clients on FCPA cases, sanctions cases, securities fraud cases, tax fraud cases, accounting fraud cases, violations of privacy laws and public corruption—it runs the gamut.

Q: When you say “helping people in their interactions with governments,” do you mean interactions of an investigative nature?

Moyne: Usually it’s government-facing investigations. So, it can be when the government is investigating a company or an individual, and my client may be a target or a witness in that investigation. But I also run internal investigations for companies and help clients evaluate whether they need to self-disclose any misconduct.

Q: When you were an Assistant U.S. Attorney, you worked with the Security and Commodities Fraud Taskforce. Do you find that the work you do with clients, particularly in the investigations realm, tends to be in the securities arena?

Moyne: I would say it’s broader than that. I have matters in the securities arena, but, as I said, I cover a wide array. I have a number of cases with my former office, and my familiarity with the workings of the office has been helpful, even if the subject matter is not in securities fraud. Thanks to my experience, I can take a proactive approach and either seek to head off a formal investigation or get our client positioned so that they are seen as a witness in that investigation rather than a target.

Q:  How do you find, then, that your previous relationships with colleagues help you helps clients?

Moyne: In a number of ways:  One, because I know the personalities and I know how the office works, I think I can offer clients a window into the government’s thought process. I am able to explain to clients the process for responding to a subpoena or meeting with the government, and I can give clients insight on how the government will react to what the client has to say or what the client has done. I think it also helps that I have credibility with prosecutors and regulators. They recognize I’m an advocate, but, if I say that I’ve investigated something and reached a conclusion, they trust my opinion and know I am a straight shooter. They also know that the way I investigate something is the way they’d go about investigating it. They’re going to test my conclusions, but it’s something that they feel that they can rely on and that I am speaking the same language and playing off the same playbook.

Q: Do you see, necessarily, a change in emphasis on the part of the organizations or investigative bodies with which you deal, as a result of the election?

Moyne: The kind of bread-and-butter law enforcement cases that are brought don’t change dramatically from one administration to another, but different presidents and different administrations focus on different areas. So, the former U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York was very focused on public corruption, particularly in Albany. Prior to him, Michael Garcia was focused on terrorism prosecutions. Attorney General Loretta Lynch added additional attorneys to the Department of Justice’s staff who focused exclusively on FCPA enforcement. It’s not as if the FCPA wasn’t enforced previously but it became a point of focus. And whatever administration is in charge reacts to events and to how those events are portrayed in the media and by politicians, for better or worse. If you have an Enron-type scandal, you’re going to see all of the agencies focusing on accounting issues. If you have mortgage fraud issues, you’re going to see everybody focused on mortgage fraud.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to note in closing regarding your practice and your capabilities?

Moyne: I think that there’s a misconception that those of us who primarily do white collar and regulatory work are like surgeons—clients hope they never have the need to see us because if they do, they have a serious problem. But we are also like general practitioners—we keep our clients healthy and out of danger. For example, we can help companies set up compliance programs, and we help our clients understand the potential risks of different courses of conduct. But if a government investigation or enforcement matter is upon them, we are the ones to see.