Eric Holder’s Justice Department: Too Much Revolving Door; Too Little Justice

By Pam Martens: August 20, 2012

Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General

Given the growing public perception that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is unwilling to prosecute the worst miscreants on Wall Street, one would think his former Wall Street powerhouse law firm would be laying low.  On the contrary, Covington and Burling, where Attorney General Holder previously served as partner and former lobbyist for Global Crossing, is bragging about the competitive advantages its close ties to the Justice Department offer its clients. 

The company writes as follows under the subheading, “Our Competitive Advantages.” 

“Covington is one of the few firms in the world with lawyers who recently held senior positions in both the US Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and UK Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”). Both Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, and Lanny Breuer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division (which has principal responsibility in DOJ for enforcing the FCPA [Foreign Corrupt Practices Act] ), were Covington partners before they joined the Obama administration. [Since this paper was penned, Dan Suleiman, who also worked at Covington and Burling, has become the new deputy chief of staff and counselor to Lanny Breuer at the Department of Justice.] 

“Two of our partners have recently returned from senior government posts working with Messrs. Holder and Breuer and are uniquely positioned to advise on the U.S. enforcement landscape: 

  • Steven Fagell, Co-Chair of the Anti-Corruption Practice Group, served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor to Assistant Attorney General Breuer. Mr. Fagell was integrally involved in the formulation and communication of Criminal Division policy in connection with the FCPA. 
  • James Garland served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor to Attorney General Holder and advised the Attorney General on a range of enforcement issues. 

“On the UK side, our anti-corruption team, which is led by practice group co-chair John Rupp, now includes Robert Amaee. Until recently, Mr. Amaee headed the Anti-Corruption and Proceeds of Crime Units in the SFO [Serious Fraud Office]. As the former top foreign bribery and money laundering prosecutor in the UK, Mr. Amaee has market-leading expertise on the recently enacted UK Bribery Act, as well as keen insight into the enforcement priorities and approach of the SFO. 

“Clients routinely turn to us for integrated, one-stop advice under the anti-corruption regimes of the US and UK. Few law firms in the world can offer clients as current and as knowledgeable a perspective from both sides of the Atlantic.” 

The Covington and Burling web site also notes that Casey Cooper, a current partner, is a former  member of the Obama Administration‘s transition team with responsibility for Department of Justice policy and operations. 

Lanny Breuer, Assistant U.S. Attorney General

The law firm is currently representing Citigroup in a Libor lawsuit in Federal Court and lists as it current or former clients: JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and UBS.  The Government Accountability Institute reported that the law firm has also represented MF Global. 

The bio for current partner Bruce A. Baird is also noteworthy. Mr. Baird’s 35 years of experience includes nine years as an Assistant United States Attorney in Manhattan, where he was Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division and Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. “He has tried numerous complex cases to both court and jury, and has persuaded the Department of Justice, the SEC, and other regulatory agencies not to proceed with cases on a significant number of occasions.”   

Covington and Burling’s web site lists over three dozen current partners or staff members who have previously worked at the U.S. Department of Justice or its U.S. Attorney division.


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