Top SDNY Securities Fraud and Money Laundering Prosecutor Joins McGuireWoods

August 3, 2020

McGuireWoods is pleased to announce that Jason Cowley, former co-chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force and former chief of the Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, has joined the firm’s Government Investigations & White Collar Litigation Department.

As a partner on McGuireWoods’ nationally recognized Government Investigations & White Collar team, Cowley will represent corporations, financial institutions and executives in criminal investigations and trials, regulatory enforcement proceedings and complex civil litigation.

As a chief of the Southern District’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force, Cowley supervised a team of approximately 20 senior prosecutors, overseeing the investigation and prosecution of various white collar offenses, including insider trading, accounting fraud, corporate embezzlement, investment adviser fraud, market manipulation, hedge fund and private equity fund overvaluation, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Notable matters that Cowley supervised include:

  • the prosecution of a then-sitting U.S. congressman for an insider trading scheme;
  • the trial of two hedge fund portfolio managers, a “political intelligence” analyst and a government insider for an insider trading scheme involving stolen government information;
  • the trial of a former partner at a Big Four accounting firm and a former PCAOB insider for the theft and illicit use of confidential PCAOB information; and
  • the trial of the former CFO of a publicly traded company for his manipulation of a key non-GAAP metric reported to the investing public.

Prior to leading the Southern District’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force, Cowley served as chief of the office’s Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit, overseeing criminal and civil asset forfeiture matters, as well as cases concerning Bank Secrecy Act violations and sanctions violations involving illicit transfers of funds through the U.S. financial system.

While at the Southern District, Cowley also played a lead role in the department’s series of criminal tax cases involving hidden assets maintained by U.S. taxpayers at Swiss banks. As part of this work, Cowley and his colleagues successfully obtained the guilty plea of Switzerland’s then-oldest bank and a deferred prosecution agreement with one of Switzerland’s largest banks for conspiring with U.S. taxpayers to commit tax offenses.

Cowley began his career in the Department of Justice as a prosecutor in the Eastern District of North Carolina, where he prosecuted federal crimes ranging from FDA-related offenses and environmental crimes to violent crimes and firearm offenses.

Cowley served a total of over 13 years in the Department of Justice and conducted over a dozen jury trials as a prosecutor.

Prior to joining the department, Cowley served as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III of the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Cowley received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2004, where he was notes editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. He received his B.A. from UNC Chapel Hill in 2001, where he was a Morehead Scholar. He is admitted to practice in North Carolina and his application for admission by motion to the New York Bar is pending.

Cowley joins a McGuireWoods practice recognized twice by Law360 as a White Collar Practice of the Year for its work representing major companies and prominent individuals in high-stakes matters.

“Jason’s extensive experience leading sensitive, high-profile investigations and prosecutions, particularly in financial services, capital markets and AML-related matters, will serve our clients well in the United States and across our international platform,” said Todd Steggerda, chair of McGuireWoods’ Government Investigations & White Collar Litigation Department. “He adds to our bench of former federal prosecutors and government regulators and makes our nationally recognized practice even stronger.”

“Jason’s impressive record of accomplishment as a prosecutor in the Southern District of New York and deep understanding of the Justice Department and federal regulatory agencies will be a tremendous asset for our clients,” added Dion Hayes, the firm’s deputy managing partner for litigation.

“Jason has a keen understanding of today’s regulatory and enforcement climate,” said John McDonald, managing partner of the firm’s Charlotte office. “His knowledge and insight enhance our client service capabilities across our firm and we are delighted to have him as part of our team.”

“We are thrilled to have Jason bring his experience and stellar reputation for his work in the Southern District of New York to bear for our clients. His addition to our white collar bench provides a powerful strategic advantage,” said Noreen Kelly, managing partner of the firm’s New York office.

With more than 60 attorneys — including former federal prosecutors and enforcement officials, former U.S. attorneys and a deputy attorney general of the United States — McGuireWoods’ Government Investigations & White Collar Litigation Department has represented Fortune 100 companies and individuals in some of the most prominent and complicated matters of the past decade.

“McGuireWoods has established an elite white collar practice that excels in guiding clients through sensitive, high-stakes investigations,” Cowley said. “I am excited to join this outstanding team and put my experience to work for the firm’s clients.”

McGuireWoods ranks among the world’s leading investigations firms in the GIR 100, a guide to top cross-border investigations practices based on independent research by Global Investigations Review. The firm holds a nationwide ranking for corporate investigations and white collar criminal defense in The Legal 500 United States, a premier list of the country’s best law firms. And The American Lawyer named the firm a Global Legal Awards finalist for litigation/dispute resolution of the year.