James J. Benjamin Jr., the head of Akin Gump’s securities enforcement and litigation practice group, represents clients in a wide variety of government and regulatory investigations and litigation. He also handles appellate and complex commercial litigation.
Practice & Background
Mr. Benjamin has extensive experience with matters arising under the federal securities and commodities laws, including allegations of insider trading, improper accounting and disclosure, market manipulation and other trading violations, and foreign corrupt practices. He represents both institutional and individual clients and has served as lead counsel in numerous internal investigations. Many of his clients are based outside the United States. Mr. Benjamin has conducted numerous jury trials and has briefed and argued many cases before federal and state appellate courts.
Before joining Akin Gump in early 2001, Mr. Benjamin served for more than five years as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. During his tenure there, he served as deputy chief appellate attorney and as a member of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. As an assistant U.S. attorney, he received an award for superior performance from Attorney General Janet Reno in 2000. Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Benjamin served as a law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justices Lewis F. Powell Jr. and John Paul Stevens. Before that, he worked for several years as an associate at a major Washington, D.C.-based law firm and served as a law clerk for the Honorable J. Frederick Motz, a federal district judge in the District of Maryland.
Mr. Benjamin received his A.B. magna cum laude in 1987 from Dartmouth College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and was awarded the Colby Government Prize. He earned his J.D. with honors in 1990 from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was the research and projects editor of the Virginia Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif.
Mr. Benjamin is a member and former chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Task Force on National Security and the Rule of Law and is a member and committee chair of the New York Council of Defense Lawyers. He is also a member of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Federal Bar Council. He has spoken extensively on developments in white-collar practice, especially regarding SEC enforcement and the FCPA.
In 2011, Mr. Benjamin was interviewed by Practising Law Institute on the topic of white-collar crime: PLI Talks – Jim Benjamin on White Collar Crime.
Mr. Benjamin’s recent engagements include:
- representing a leading financial institution in cross-border investigations of conduct in the spot FX market
- defending a multibillion dollar hedge fund and its founder in a significant insider dealing enforcement proceeding by U.K. authorities that raised novel issues related to distinctions between U.S. and U.K. securities laws
- representing a leading financial institution in investigations of sales practices in relation to mortgage-backed securities
- representing bank executives in investigations by government agencies in multiple jurisdictions regarding the London InterBank Offered Rate (“Libor”)
- defending a senior fixed income trader at a major financial institution in a novel CME enforcement proceeding
- defending a multibillion-dollar investment fund in a significant Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) market manipulation enforcement proceeding
- defending a prominent hedge fund portfolio manager in parallel criminal and SEC insider trading cases, and in related class action litigation, arising from the use of an expert network
- defending numerous individuals and investment funds in approximately twenty different insider trading investigations conducted by various prosecutors and regulators in the United States and the United Kingdom
- defending numerous clients in a number of CFTC and futures exchange investigations relating to alleged market manipulation, wash trading, disruptive trading, prearranged trading, position limit violations and trade allocations
- defending senior traders at major Wall Street firms in separate investigations by self-regulatory organizations (SROs) alleging, respectively, excessive markups, improper trading alongside customer orders and market manipulation
- representing individuals and institutional clients in several different SEC and DOJ investigations relating to collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and other mortgage-related securities
- defending senior executives of a number of major public companies in approximately ten different Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigations arising out of conduct in Europe, Asia and Latin America
- representing current and former executives of numerous global financial institutions in government and Congressional investigations of alleged violations of U.S. sanctions regulations applicable to banks and alleged deficiencies in anti-money laundering controls
- defending senior executives of a Fortune 50 company in accounting investigations conducted by the Department of Justice, the SEC and an audit committee, as well as in parallel shareholder litigation
- representing a publicly traded reinsurance company in audit committee and SEC investigations of potential improper accounting
- defending a hedge fund portfolio manager in a criminal securities fraud case alleging insider trading, market manipulation and racketeering
- representing a major accounting firm in government investigations and private litigation following problems at audit clients
- defending a senior partner of a private equity firm in an SEC investigation regarding disclosures relating to a portfolio company
- representing the general counsel of a well-known public company in audit committee, SEC and DOJ investigations of alleged vendor fraud and accounting problems.
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 2010 through 2015. Listed in Band One in 2013 through 2015.
- Recognized in The Who’s Who Legal 100 in Business Crime Defense and Investigations, 2014 and 2015
- Recognized in Best Lawyers in America, 2013 through 2016, in the areas of Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy) and White Collar Criminal Defense
- Recognized in New York Super Lawyers, 2007 and 2010-2015.
- Spoke on “Recent Developments in FCPA Law and Practice – Focus on Prosecution of Individuals” at PLI’s Foreign Corrupt Practices and International Anti-Corruption Developments 2014 program, May 2014
- Co-chaired PLI’s full-day CLE conference titled “White Collar Crime: Prosecutors and Regulators Speak” in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014
- Moderated a panel titled “Trials in the 21stCentury: Legal and Practical Issues Presented by the Electronic Age” at the 2013 New York Council of Defense Lawyers retreat
- Participated in a panel titled “Case Study: Investigations of LIBOR and Benchmark Interest Rates” at the 2013 PLI CLE conference “White Collar Crime: Prosecutors and Regulators Speak”
- Participated in a panel titled “Overview of Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Law and Practice” at the 2013 New York City Bar CLE Conference “Hot Topics in SEC Enforcement”
- Moderated a panel titled “Legal Issues in the Courts: The Year in Review” at the PLI conference “Enforcement 2012: Multi-Agency Enforcement Efforts”
- Participated in a panel titled “Hypothetical Case Study: Anatomy of an FCPA Investigation” at the 2012 New York City Bar CLE Conference ”Hot Topics in SEC Enforcement: Investigations in a Time of Turmoil“
- Participated in a panel titled “Hypothetical Case Study: Anatomy of an Insider Trading Investigation” at the 2011 New York City Bar CLE Conference ”Hot Topics in SEC Enforcement: A Changing Landscape“
- Led a presentation titled “Preparing Your Client to Testify: Anticipating the Prosecution’s Cross-Examination” at the 2011 New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers CLE program “Cross to Kill”
- Participated in a panel titled “Ethical Issues in SEC Investigations” at the 2010 New York City Bar CLE Conference ”Hot Topics in SEC Enforcement: A Changing Landscape“
- Participated in a panel titled “Conducting Investigations in an Environment of Heightened Prosecutions” at the 2010 PLI conference ”Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 2010“
- Participated in a CLE program titled “Recent Trends in DOJ and SEC Actions Against In-House Counsel” before the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel
- Participated in a panel titled “Representing Individuals in SEC Investigations” at the 2008 New York City Bar CLE Conference ”Hot Topics in SEC Enforcement: A Changing Landscape“
- Moderated a panel titled “Lessons Learned from Recent DOJ and SEC Enforcement Actions: A Look Back at the Year that Was” at the 2008 New York City Bar CLE Conference ”Recent Trends in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Compliance & Enforcement“
- Moderated a panel titled “Lessons Learned from Recent DOJ and SEC Enforcement Actions” at the 2007 New York City Bar CLE Conference ”FCPA: Complying & Implementing Risk Management Strategies”
- Participated in a program titled “Is Our Criminal Justice System in Crisis: Balancing the Interests of the Government, Corporations, and Individuals in Criminal Investigations and Prosecutions” in 2007 at the New York American Inn of Court
- Participated in a panel titled “Stock Options Investigations” at the 2006 New York City Bar CLE Conference ”Hot Topics in SEC Enforcement”
- Participated in a panel titled “The Sentencing Guidelines” at the 2006 New York County Lawyers’ Association CLE Institute
- Participated in a panel titled “The Sentencing Guidelines” at the 2005 New York County Lawyers’ Association CLE Institute
- Participated in a panel titled “The Sentencing Guidelines” at the 2004 New York County Lawyers’ Association CLE Institute
- Led a presentation titled “Representing a Client During the Investigation: Agent Interviews, Proffers, Search Warrants” at the 2003 New York City Bar CLE Conference ”ABCs of Federal Criminal Litigation.”