Former PCAOB Director of Enforcement and SEC, DOJ Veteran Claudius Modesti Joins Akin Gump
(Washington, D.C.) – Akin Gump is pleased to announce that Claudius Modesti, former Director of Enforcement at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), has joined Akin Gump as a partner in its white collar defense and government investigations practice in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Modesti, prior to a 14-year tenure at the PCAOB, also served with the Fraud Section of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, as a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement attorney and as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
At Akin Gump, he will counsel and defend accounting firms, regulated entities, corporations and individuals in regulatory investigations and enforcement proceedings involving the PCAOB and SEC, in addition to advising on other federal or state criminal investigations.
“Claudius’s extensive enforcement experience involving the regulation and oversight of the accounting and auditing industry represents a significant and distinct addition to our industry leading white collar capabilities,” said Akin Gump chairperson Kim Koopersmith. “His judgment, acumen and broad-based enforcement background will be greatly valued by our clients, and I am delighted to welcome him to Akin Gump.”
Mr. Modesti was the PCAOB’s first enforcement director, having led the team that built the enforcement group from its inception. He oversaw the development of the PCAOB’s policies and procedures for identifying matters for investigation and led more than 100 such investigations annually of U.S.- and foreign-based accounting firms, with many of them also requiring coordinating parallel investigations with the SEC. Mr. Modesti’s role also included overseeing the Board’s litigation process. In addition, Mr. Modesti played a key role in the PCAOB’s collaboration with its foreign regulator counterparts, particularly as it related to international enforcement cooperation.
“As the one and only PCAOB enforcement director to enter private practice, Claudius has a unique perspective that will resonate strongly with our clients,” said Charles F. Connolly, a partner in Akin Gump’s white collar practice in Washington, D.C. “He brings a truly defining quality in how to approach auditor, accounting and more general SEC enforcement matters. With his substantial experience, Claudius is an outstanding addition to our litigation group, and I am very happy to have him on our team.”
Added Mr. Modesti, “I look forward to developing a sophisticated practice at Akin Gump that is focused on auditor defense. Combining this with a practice that also centers around securities enforcement and white collar investigations will reap great benefits for the firm’s clients. Akin Gump’s white collar practice is known for being top-tier in the market, and I am excited about the opportunity to play a key role on this highly regarded team.”
About Claudius Modesti
Mr. Modesti began his career in private practice before moving to the public sector and a clerkship for Judge J. Frederick Motz of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. He then worked at the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, investigating numerous securities law violations, including insider trading, investment advisor breaches, accounting fraud, auditor liability and Ponzi schemes.
After several years at the SEC, Mr. Modesti moved to the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division Fraud Section, where he investigated, indicted and prosecuted white collar crimes. He had substantial involvement in the criminal investigation of the tobacco industry, the investigation of bribery allegations involving the Salt Lake Olympic Committee, and other high-profile fraud matters, including a two-month securities and bank fraud trial in California of the former chief financial officer of a Silicon Valley media product company.
Mr. Modesti subsequently moved to the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia, where he was assigned to the Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit and served as the Corporate Fraud Coordinator for the office. He co-led an investigation of two publicly traded companies for securities fraud and wire fraud and was the principal liaison with the SEC, FINRA and other regulators in efforts to develop new regulatory relationships and investigations for the Eastern District.
Hired by William J. McDonough, the first Chairman of the PCAOB, Mr. Modesti began at the PCAOB in 2004 and worked during his tenure there on a broad range of audit matters including fraud, revenue recognition, asset impairment, illegal acts, disclosure, noncooperation, independence and other disciplinary issues.
Mr. Modesti received both his J.D., magna cum laude and Order of the Coif, and his B.S. from Georgetown University.
About Akin Gump’s White Collar Defense and Government Investigations Practice
With a team that has been at the forefront of white collar defense for more than 30 years, Akin Gump is experienced and adept at helping clients navigate the challenges of all manner of government investigations. The team includes a distinguished roster of former prosecutors who served at the highest levels of the Department of Justice and at leading United States Attorneys’ Offices, including the Southern District of New York, Eastern District of New York, Central District of California, Eastern District of Virginia and Eastern District of Texas, and lawyers who served in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division.
Akin Gump has successfully represented financial institutions, corporations, executives, individuals and public officials in a wide range of federal and state prosecutions and investigations and has conducted internal investigations for corporations throughout the world. The deep experience and sound judgment of its white collar defense lawyers result in industry-leading credibility and effectiveness in dealing with the government.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
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