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Michael Watling represents financial institutions and executives in regulatory enforcement and white-collar matters.  Michael is an experienced trial lawyer, having served as both a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Tax Division and as Senior Litigation Counsel in the Enforcement Department of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  In private practice Michael represents clients in both civil and criminal matters and in internal investigations involving a wide range of accounting, tax, and securities issues.  Michael has had significant success representing clients in litigation and during investigations, often resolving matters for clients without any enforcement action and achieving favorable verdicts and settlements once in litigation.  Michael also provides compliance advice to a variety of financial services and fintech companies, particularly in areas concerning financial crimes and anti-money laundering compliance.

For over fifteen years Michael served as a prosecutor and financial regulator where he led dozens of complex white-collar investigations and served as lead trial counsel in many of his organizations’ most complex and programmatically important matters.  During that time, Michael developed broad subject matter expertise in both securities and tax law, having handled diverse cases involving securities fraud, market manipulation, pump-and-dump schemes, tax evasion, tax shelter promoters, mortgage fraud, money laundering, programmatic supervision and AML failures, and a wide range of broker-dealer sales practice violations.

Michael also served as a Deputy Associate Counsel in the Office of the White House Counsel during the administration of President Barack Obama. While at the White House, Michael vetted presidential appointees and counseled the president and vice president on tax-related matters. Michael started his legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Queens County, New York.

Full Bio

Credentials

J.D., Hofstra University School of Law

B.A., University of Washington-Seattle Campus

New York

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

U.S. Tax Court

Six-time recipient of FINRA’s Premier Achievement Award


Presented for exemplary work and dedicated service to the organization and its mission

Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division Honoree


Presented mutually by four IRS field offices for outstanding contribution prosecuting nationwide tax fraud (2010)

Two-time recipient of US Department of Justice Tax Division Special Commendation Award


2008, 2010

US Department of Justice Outstanding Attorney Award


2009

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Recognition

Six-time recipient of FINRA’s Premier Achievement Award


Presented for exemplary work and dedicated service to the organization and its mission

Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division Honoree


Presented mutually by four IRS field offices for outstanding contribution prosecuting nationwide tax fraud (2010)

Two-time recipient of US Department of Justice Tax Division Special Commendation Award


2008, 2010

US Department of Justice Outstanding Attorney Award


2009

Matters

Negotiated a ninety percent reduction of multi-million dollar pre-trial settlement offer for broker-dealer in regulatory litigation involving FINRA's corporate finance rules.

Successfully defended Shopoff Securities, Inc. and its principals in a FINRA disciplinary proceeding, securing complete exoneration for entity and principals and complete dismissal of Complaint.

Successfully defended registered representative in FINRA cause examination involving expense reporting concerns, resulting in termination of examination with no enforcement action.

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Matters

Negotiated a ninety percent reduction of multi-million dollar pre-trial settlement offer for broker-dealer in regulatory litigation involving FINRA's corporate finance rules.

Successfully defended Shopoff Securities, Inc. and its principals in a FINRA disciplinary proceeding, securing complete exoneration for entity and principals and complete dismissal of Complaint.

Successfully defended registered representative in FINRA cause examination involving expense reporting concerns, resulting in termination of examination with no enforcement action.

Negotiated settlement resolving multi-year investigation into broker-dealer supervision and reporting of registered representatives’ liens and judgments.

Represented numerous public companies in fraud surveillance inquiries conducted by FINRA’s National Cause and Financial Crimes Detection Program.

Conducted internal investigation for public company concerning potential insider trading preceding $20 billion merger announcement.

Advised a state-chartered trust to establish KYC procedures and anti-money laundering program for new business line involving foreign counterparties.

Represented fixed income trader in DOJ Antitrust Division investigation.

Conducted tax- and financial crimes compliance-related due diligence for wealth management division of global financial institution.

Represented multiple witnesses in federal criminal trial in connection with a forensic accounting investigation conducted by a global accounting firm.

Matters

Negotiated a ninety percent reduction of multi-million dollar pre-trial settlement offer for broker-dealer in regulatory litigation involving FINRA's corporate finance rules.

Successfully defended Shopoff Securities, Inc. and its principals in a FINRA disciplinary proceeding, securing complete exoneration for entity and principals and complete dismissal of Complaint.

Successfully defended registered representative in FINRA cause examination involving expense reporting concerns, resulting in termination of examination with no enforcement action.

See more
Icon close

Close

Matters

Negotiated a ninety percent reduction of multi-million dollar pre-trial settlement offer for broker-dealer in regulatory litigation involving FINRA's corporate finance rules.

Successfully defended Shopoff Securities, Inc. and its principals in a FINRA disciplinary proceeding, securing complete exoneration for entity and principals and complete dismissal of Complaint.

Successfully defended registered representative in FINRA cause examination involving expense reporting concerns, resulting in termination of examination with no enforcement action.

Negotiated settlement resolving multi-year investigation into broker-dealer supervision and reporting of registered representatives’ liens and judgments.

Represented numerous public companies in fraud surveillance inquiries conducted by FINRA’s National Cause and Financial Crimes Detection Program.

Conducted internal investigation for public company concerning potential insider trading preceding $20 billion merger announcement.

Advised a state-chartered trust to establish KYC procedures and anti-money laundering program for new business line involving foreign counterparties.

Represented fixed income trader in DOJ Antitrust Division investigation.

Conducted tax- and financial crimes compliance-related due diligence for wealth management division of global financial institution.

Represented multiple witnesses in federal criminal trial in connection with a forensic accounting investigation conducted by a global accounting firm.

Credentials

J.D., Hofstra University School of Law

B.A., University of Washington-Seattle Campus

New York

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

U.S. Tax Court

Six-time recipient of FINRA’s Premier Achievement Award


Presented for exemplary work and dedicated service to the organization and its mission

Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division Honoree


Presented mutually by four IRS field offices for outstanding contribution prosecuting nationwide tax fraud (2010)

Two-time recipient of US Department of Justice Tax Division Special Commendation Award


2008, 2010

US Department of Justice Outstanding Attorney Award


2009

Icon close

Close

Recognition

Six-time recipient of FINRA’s Premier Achievement Award


Presented for exemplary work and dedicated service to the organization and its mission

Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division Honoree


Presented mutually by four IRS field offices for outstanding contribution prosecuting nationwide tax fraud (2010)

Two-time recipient of US Department of Justice Tax Division Special Commendation Award


2008, 2010

US Department of Justice Outstanding Attorney Award


2009