Benjamin A. O'Neil Partner

Ben is a member of the firm’s nationally ranked Government Investigations and White Collar Litigation department. A former federal prosecutor, he is equally skilled in the courtroom as he is in handling clients’ most sensitive, high-profile internal matters. He regularly advises corporate entities, boards of directors, audit and special committees, and individuals on their most difficult legal challenges. Ben has particular expertise in criminal and civil fraud matters, with a focus on cross-border Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions investigations and litigation, as well as significant experience with congressional investigations and crisis situations.

Over the past several years, Ben has been at the forefront of several groundbreaking, global resolutions for corporate entities facing criminal and civil exposure arising from the same conduct in multiple jurisdictions. His experience in navigating the process of cooperation and resolution with regulators spread throughout the world simultaneously has made him uniquely qualified to manage these special situations. He is among only a handful of U.S. lawyers who have achieved these types of global results and is at the forefront of this emerging trend of international criminal law.

Ben’s practice also has included helping clients in politically-charged investigations conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), U.S. Federal Elections Commission, and other federal agencies. He often plays a role in advising clients through strategic communications and crisis management. 

Prior to joining McGuireWoods, Ben was a federal prosecutor with the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. In that role, he prosecuted foreign bribery, financial, and healthcare fraud throughout the United States. Ben was the lead on several jury trials, and managed large-scale corporate investigations.

Experience

Representative Cross-Border Enforcement Matters

Represented the Odebrecht Group, the largest construction conglomerate in South America, in what the U.S. Justice Department has described as “the largest-ever global foreign bribery resolution.” Counseled client in its negotiations with U.S. investigators and coordinated the global strategy in reaching a resolution between U.S., Brazilian and Swiss investigators and the client and its affiliate. Conducted an internal investigation on behalf of the organization.

Represented J&F Investimentos and JBS SA in enforcement actions by the DOJ and SEC stemming from the largest bribery scheme in Brazilan history. Achieved a resolution with all U.S. regulators which resulted in removing U.S. criminal and civil exposure for the conduct for a fraction of the fine levied against the entities in Brazil.

Counseled CONMEBOL, the confederation of the ten South American national soccer teams, in connection with U.S. criminal investigations and prosecutions into allegations of bribery and corruption in the international soccer world. Advised the client on the investigations, conducted an internal investigation on behalf of the organization and secured an $80 million remission award by the United States to CONMEBOL based on its status as the victim of the bribery conduct.

Defended Joseph Sigelman, a successful American entrepreneur who founded and served as co-CEO of a Colombian oil services company, in the highest profile FCPA trial of recent years. In what was described by the national media as a “striking victory for the defense,” the U.S. Department of Justice agreed in the middle of trial to drop all of the most serious charges against the client, including those relating to substantive bribery, kickbacks, defrauding investors and money laundering and wire fraud, permitting the client to receive no jail time and avoid the 20 years in prison prosecutors had sought.

Representative Domestic Enforcement, Congressional and Crisis Matters

Defended Novartis in connection with a False Claims Act case brought by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Negotiated a favorable settlement for the company before trial which did not require an admission of liability.

Counseled NFL team during organizational crisis arising from allegations of sexual and racial harassment of former employees. Part of a team that developed and implemented a short-term crisis strategy that was later referred to in Sports Illustrated as “a brilliant stroke of crisis management.”

Counseled more than a dozen current and former Boeing employees in connection with the investigations by U.S. authorities of the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

Counseled a special committee of the board of directors of a publicly traded investment fund in connection an internal investigation related to the indictment of fund’s former CEO.

Represented a Fortune 100 insurance company in connection with Congressional investigations related to Covid-19 pandemic.

Defended a former CEO of a major U.S. healthcare company in connection with an investigation by the U.S. Federal Elections Commission of alleged campaign finance violations.

  • Georgetown University Law Center, JD, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif, Member, Georgetown Law Journal, 2005
  • University of Virginia, BA, History, 2000

Named, "D.C. Rising Star," The National Law Journal, 2017

Named, "Rising Star," White Collar, Law360, 2016

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