“A terrific lawyer who is very smart.”Chambers USA 2020
Michael Levy is a partner in Mayer Brown's Washington DC office and a member of the global White Collar Defense & Compliance, Congressional Investigations & Crisis Management and Regulatory & Investigations practices. He focuses on white collar defense, investigations, and representation of corporations and individuals in connection with government enforcement initiatives. He has conducted internal investigations for Fortune 100 and other companies as well as their audit committees and has represented numerous Fortune 500 companies, high-ranking public officials, civic leaders, and prominent corporate executives in major criminal cases and congressional, SEC, and other governmental investigations involving alleged violations of fraud, securities, tax, antitrust, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), environmental, healthcare, False Claims Act, obstruction of justice, and other criminal statutes.
Michael has represented corporate and individual clients in many of the most prominent white collar matters of the past two decades, including representation of central players in the complex and overlapping investigations of Enron, the financial and accounting scandals of Fannie Mae, the downfall of MF Global, alleged tax abuses on Wall Street and around the world, the NFL’s “Spygate” scandal, the unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles, the murders of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, the use by the former Secretary of State of a non-governmental private email server, and many others. He excels at high-profile, complex investigations being conducted simultaneously by multiple prosecutors, regulatory enforcement agencies, and congressional committees.
Chambers USA notes that the “fantastic” and “very talented” Michael Levy offers “great judgment” and is a “smart, client-focused and energetic individual” who is “experienced and resourceful,” “incredibly responsive,” “a master at representing individuals and groups in complex white-collar cases,” and “an insightful attorney who inspires clients’ confidence.” The New York Times has profiled Michael’s diverse career and work in connection with the “Spygate” investigations by the National Football League and Sen. Arlen Specter (“A Legal Journey From Enron to the N.F.L.”). He has been quoted as an authority on white collar defense and government investigations in numerous US newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters, and has appeared on “ABC World News,” CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg Television, “Good Morning America,” National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” and ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning.”
- Successfully defended Thomas Lund, the former Executive Vice President and head of Fannie Mae’s Single Family business, against securities fraud charges filed by the SEC in the Southern District of New York. After three years of litigation, the SEC discontinued its case against Mr. Lund without obtaining any of the relief sought in its Complaint.
- Representing a major fintech company in a grand jury investigation by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York of alleged anti-money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act offenses.
- Representing a major global financial institution before the Department of Justice in connection with the use by US clients of offshore accounts in Switzerland to avoid taxes.
- Representing a global, multi-billion dollar manufacturing company in investigations conducted by the DOJ, SEC, and foreign authorities into allegations of defrauding customers and end-users.
- Representing the former CFO of MF Global, Inc., in investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern District of New York and the Northern District of Illinois, SEC, CFTC, and multiple congressional committees involving the alleged misuse of approximately $1.6 billion in customer segregated funds.
- Representing Admiral Michael Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in congressional investigations and testimony relating to the murders of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.
- Representing MIT Economics Professor Jonathan Gruber in connection with congressional investigations and testimony related to his work in connection with and subsequent comments relating to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
- Representing former Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in connection with congressional investigations relating to alleged violations of the Hatch Act.
- Representing Lehman Brothers in multi-year investigations by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Senate PSI) into allegedly abusive equity derivative and stock lending transactions with offshore counterparties designed to avoid U.S. dividend withholding taxes. Lehman’s role in the development, marketing, and execution of these dividend arbitrage transactions was the focus of several front-page articles in the Wall Street Journal.
- Representing key bankers and other professionals employed both in the US and abroad by a major US financial institution in separate government investigations into a multi-billion dollar derivatives trading loss in Europe and the alleged hiring of the children of foreign government officials in Asia.
- Representing the senior executive in charge of government affairs for Toyota North America in criminal and civil investigations by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Los Angeles Regional Office of the SEC, the Inspector General of the United States Department of Transportation, and the United States Congress into statements made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and investors relating to unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles.
- Representing a member of the Board of Directors of General Motors in connection with investigations and litigation related to GM's ignition switch recall scandal.
- Representing a multi-billion dollar hedge fund in an investigation by the Senate PSI relating to the tax treatment of certain complex financial instruments.
- Representing the financial arm of a Fortune 10 company, one of the industry’s largest institutional asset management companies, and current and former executives from a major Wall Street investment bank and another of the country’s largest financial institutions in investigations by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) to determine “the causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States.”
- Representing a partner in KPMG's National Tax practice group in a grand jury investigation by the DOJ Tax Division into alleged tax fraud relating to sale-leaseback transactions for tenant leasehold improvements to accelerate depreciation deductions. Our client was acquitted of all charges.
- Representing a former congressman in a two-year grand jury investigation conducted by the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice. No charges were brought.
- Representing Matt Walsh, the former videographer for the New England Patriots, who found himself in the spotlight in connection with the “Spygate” investigations by the National Football League and Sen. Arlen Specter. Mr. Levy negotiated an unprecedented indemnification agreement with the NFL that provided legal and financial protection for Walsh prior to his disclosure of evidence to the NFL Commissioner and his meeting with Sen. Specter regarding the Patriots’ violations of NFL rules. Mr. Levy’s careful counsel and crisis management skills helped Walsh successfully navigate intense public pressure from the NFL, Sen. Specter, and the national media.
- Representing numerous high-ranking Enron executives in connection with the multiple prosecutions and investigations related to that company. Our work included representing clients in investigations conducted by the DOJ’s Enron Task Force, SEC, New York County District Attorney, CFTC, FERC, IRS, Department of Labor, Enron Bankruptcy Examiner, and the Special Committee of the Board of Directors of Enron Corp., involving issues ranging from broad allegations of accounting fraud and insider trading to technical allegations relating to commodities trading and ERISA.
- Representing a major international financial services company in a federal grand jury investigation in the Eastern District of New York relating to mortgage fraud allegations.
- Representing a U.S. subsidiary of a major international investment bank in a federal grand jury investigation of alleged corruption in the stock lending industry.
- Representing many Fannie Mae executives in connection with investigations of Fannie Mae’s FAS 91 and FAS 133 accounting conducted by the DOJ, SEC, OFHEO, and the Special Review Committee of Fannie Mae’s Board of Directors.
- Representing U.S. and non-U.S. executives and board members of multiple public companies being investigated by the DOJ, SEC, and foreign law enforcement agencies for alleged improper payments made to foreign officials in Asia, South America, Europe, and Africa in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
- Representing a major US corporation in a two-year grand jury investigation of alleged cartel activity in Europe by the DOJ’s Antitrust Division. Without entering the Amnesty Program, no charges were brought against the company or any of its executives.
- Representing Koch Industries in a major environmental criminal case in Corpus Christi, Texas, alleging violations of the Clean Air Act.
- Representing executives of a large financial institution in criminal and civil False Claims Act investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the DOJ, and an Inspector General.
Harvard Law School, JD, magna cum laude
Yale University, BA, summa cum laude
- District of Columbia
- New York
- US Supreme Court
- US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- US District Court for the District of Columbia
- US District Court for the Southern District of New York
- Served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the District of Columbia. While serving in the Public Corruption section, he prosecuted federal and local officials for bribery, fraud, embezzlement, and other forms of corrupt conduct. He was an instructor at the Attorney General’s Advocacy Institute and honored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for his trial and appellate advocacy.
- Faculty, Winter Term Trial Advocacy Workshop, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Mass. (2011–present)
- Faculty, Fall Term Trial Advocacy Workshop, Stanford Law School, Palo Alto, Calif. (2014)
- Lectures annually on white collar criminal defense at the George Washington University School of Law.
- Helps prepare lawyers for their upcoming Supreme Court oral arguments through the Georgetown University Law Center's Supreme Court Institute.
- Awarded a White House Fellowship. He spent his fellowship year as a Special Assistant to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and served as the Secretary’s policy liaison on all civil rights matters. At the conclusion of the fellowship, the Secretary appointed him as the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
- Clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. and U.S. District Court Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer.
- Published in the Harvard Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, and other scholarly journals.
- Chambers USA, White Collar Crime and Government Investigations (District of Columbia) (2008–present)
- Best Lawyers, Criminal Defense: White Collar (2014–present)
- Super Lawyers, Washington, D.C. (2004–present)
- Washingtonian Magazine, “Top Lawyer” (2007–present)