James J. Benjamin Jr., a leader 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 representing banks, private investment funds, broker-dealers, and proprietary trading firms—as well as their key executives and traders—in investigations and enforcement proceedings arising under the federal securities and commodities laws. He has successfully guided clients through investigations relating to multiple subject matters including insider trading; improper accounting and disclosure; market manipulation, disruptive trading and other trading violations; foreign corrupt practices; and anti-money laundering and the Bank Secrecy Act. 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
- representing a leading financial institution in investigations of sales practices in relation to mortgage-backed securities
- defending numerous individuals and investment funds in more than 20 different insider trading investigations—including a number of significant matters—conducted by prosecutors and regulators in the United States and in other countries
- defending multinational companies and their executives in more than 20 different Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigations arising out of conduct in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa
- representing individuals and institutional clients in multiple SEC and DOJ investigations relating to securitizations and securitized products such as RMBS and CDOs
- defending trading firms and individuals in multiple CFTC and futures exchange investigations relating to alleged market manipulation, wash trading, disruptive trading, prearranged trading, position limit violations and trade allocations
- representing current and former executives of numerous financial institutions in government and Congressional investigations of alleged violations of U.S. economic sanctions and alleged deficiencies in anti-money laundering controls
- defending a former executive at a major broker-dealer in an SEC enforcement proceeding arising from alleged undisclosed markups in relation to the broker-dealer’s transition management business
- defending senior executives of a major broker-dealer in a complex SEC investigation relating to market structure and electronic trading
- defending a former CMBS trader at a major broker-dealer who was investigated for alleged unlawful parking of securities
- representing executives of different multi-national corporations in a number of different criminal antitrust investigations arising out of conduct in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa
- defending individuals in Switzerland in multiple investigations regarding U.S. tax matters
- 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
- representing bank executives in investigations by government agencies in multiple jurisdictions regarding the London Interbank Offered Rate (“Libor”)
- 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
- 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
- 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 2010–2017. Listed in Band One in 2013–2017.
- Recognized in Who’s Who Legal – Compendium Edition (2017)
- Recognized in Best Lawyers in America, 2013–2018, in the areas of Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy) and White Collar Criminal Defense
- Recognized in New York Super Lawyers, 2007 and 2010–2017
- Recognized in Who’s Who Legal 100 in Business Crime Defense and Investigations, 2014–2016
- Recognized in Expert Guides: White Collar Crime, U.S., 2016
- Co-chair of PLI’s full-day CLE annual conference titled “White Collar Crime: Prosecutors and Regulators Speak” every year since the program’s inception in 2008
- Spoke on current developments in attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine at PLI’s program on “Ethics in Banking & Financial Services,” July 2017
- Spoke on “Ethical Issues in FCPA Practice: Hypothetical on Whistleblowers” at PLI’s Foreign Corrupt Practices and International Anti-Corruption Developments 2017 program, April 2017
- Spoke on current developments in attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine at PLI’s program on “Ethics in Banking & Financial Services,” August 2016
- Participated in a panel at an In-House CLE program titled “Internal Investigations Under the Yates Memo: Best Practices and Ethical Considerations,” May 2016
- Spoke on “Hypothetical: Ethical Issues” at PLI’s Foreign Corrupt Practices and International Anti-Corruption Developments 2016 program, May 2016
- Spoke on “Pitfalls in Running Investigations in China” at Akin Gump’s CLE Program in New York City, November 2015
- Spoke on “What Do You Need to Know When Representing Individuals” at PLI’s Foreign Corrupt Practices and International Anti-Corruption Developments 2015 program, May 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
- Moderated a panel titled “Trials in the 21st Century: 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.”