Michael A. Asaro focuses on white-collar criminal defense, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) investigations, corporate internal investigations and complex commercial litigation.
Practice & Background
Mr. Asaro routinely represents companies and individuals high-stakes white collar and regulatory investigations and litigations. He has extensive experience in matters involving insider trading, market manipulation, accounting irregularities, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and investment advisor and broker-dealer 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:
- conducting an internal investigation on behalf of the Audit Committees of two public companies into whistleblower allegations of accounting improprieties at joint venture
- representing hedge funds and their employees in connection with multiple different 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
- representing executive of publicly-traded commercial bank who received a pre-Wells notice from the SEC staff in connection with an accounting fraud investigation; convinced the SEC staff to close the matter without bringing any charges against client
- 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 an international investment bank in connection with an internal investigation of whistleblower allegations related to the mismarking of complex energy derivatives
- 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
- conducting an internal investigation on behalf of a large international corporation of bribery allegations raised by the DOJ against a high-level employee
- 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
- 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
- representing investment adviser and its principal in securities class action and multiple shareholder derivative lawsuits alleging fraud and breach of fiduciary duty; obtained dismissals of all actions, which were upheld on appeal. IBEW Local 595 Pension v. ADT Corp., No. 15-13595, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16454 (11th Cir. Sept. 7, 2016); Ryan v. Gursahaney, 128 A.3d 991 (Del. 2015)
- 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. Greenlight Capital LP, et al. v. Apple Inc., 13 Civ. 900, 2013 WL 646547 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 22, 2013)
- defending hedge fund in defamation lawsuit involving alleged “short and distort” market manipulation scheme; obtained a dismissal of the case in its entirety on behalf of client on First Amendment grounds. Silvercorp Metals Inc. v. Anthion Management LLC, 36 Misc.3d 1231(A) (N.Y. Sup. Aug. 16, 2012)
- defending multi-billion dollar investment fund in a significant CFTC market manipulation enforcement proceeding and related class action litigation
- representing a global financial institution in connection with FINRA investigations of embezzlement and unauthorized trading schemes by firm employees
- defending hedge funds and their principals, portfolio managers and analysts in numerous SEC and DOJ insider trading investigations
- defending clients in a variety of different CFTC and futures exchange investigations related to market manipulation, spoofing, 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
- 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, 2013-2017
- Recognized in New York Super Lawyers, 2011 and 2012
- Profiled by Securities Law 360
- Profiled by BNA’s Securities Regulation & Law Report.
- Participated in a panel titled Regulatory Development and Enforcement Across the Globe at the Akin Gump Annual New York Investment Funds Conference, October 2, 2017
- Participated in a panel titled Enforcement at the Managed Funds Association’s Compliance 2017 Conference, May 9, 2017
- Participated in a panel titled Compliance Spotlight during the main program at the Akin Gump Annual New York Investment Funds Conference, September 21, 2016
- Participated in a panel titled Ethics at the Managed Funds Association’s Compliance 2016 Conference, May 10, 2016
- Speaker panelist on “Legal and Regulatory Trends and Developments” at Goldman Sach’s Securities Division “Thirteenth Annual Hedge Fund Seminar,” November 12, 2015
- Participated in a panel titled Taking the Pulse of Regulators: A discussion of regulatory themes in the U.S. and overseas at the Akin Gump Annual New York Investment Funds Conference, October 13, 2015
- Participated in a panel titled A Look Behind the Curtain: Examining the SEC Regulatory Exam for Hedge Funds at the Private Investment Funds Compliance Master Class, February 17, 2015
- Participated in a panel on Insider Trading Developments at the 2014 New York City Bar CLE Conference “Hot Topics in SEC Enforcement: The SEC Gets Tougher,” March 21, 2014
- 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.