Michael is a partner in the Litigation Department and Co-Chair of the firm's White-Collar Defense Practice Group. His practice focuses on the representation of financial institutions, investment advisers, public companies and their executives in white collar criminal defense, securities enforcement matters, internal investigations, and complex commercial litigation.
Michael won a major victory over the Justice Department in 2019, securing an acquittal on all counts in U.S. v. Boustani, the securities fraud trial of shipbuilding executive Jean Boustani in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, over an alleged $2 billion fraud and kickback scheme involving Mozambique state-backed loans. In 2018, Chambers USA presented Michael its White Collar Crime & Government Investigations Award, its top honor nationwide for criminal defense work. In ranking him among the leaders in White Collar & Government Investigations, Chambers USA (2020) highlighted that he is "a tremendously talented trial lawyer with a great sense of the arguments that will appeal to a jury." Chambers previously cited his “exceptional judgment, great client skills and amazing credibility with government lawyers.” In 2017, Michael was named “Litigator of the Week” by The American Lawyer for winning a landmark victory dismissing all charges in the first U.S. LIBOR manipulation case before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Michael was also a recipient of the award for “Most Important Development in Investigations” at the GIR Awards 2017 in connection with the same landmark victory, and was named as one of Law 360’s 2017 MVPs in the area of White Collar. He was also named a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by Benchmark Litigation (2022).
Criminal and Enforcement Representations:
- Secured acquittal on all counts for shipbuilding executive charged with securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering arising from allegations of bribery to win large contracts in Mozambique in the closely followed case of United States v. Jean Boustani (E.D.N.Y.). This major victory was profiled in The American Lawyer, “Willkie Team Wins Big with Art of Storytelling.” The Willkie team also topped Law360’s Legal Lions list in recognition of the victory.
- Won landmark victory dismissing all charges in the first U.S. LIBOR manipulation case before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in United States v. Allen. Michael was recognized as "Litigator of the Week" by The Am Law Litigation Daily for his role in this case.
- Represented Deerfield Management Company in an insider trading investigation based on alleged use of political intelligence, resulting in a favorable resolution with the SEC.
- Defending Adidas sports marketing head against federal criminal charges relating to alleged payments to recruit student athletes to college basketball programs in United States v. Gatto, et al. (S.D.N.Y.).
- Defended former general counsel of Hollinger, Inc. in the highly publicized four-month federal criminal trial of United States v. Conrad Black, et al. (N.D. Ill.).
- Represented Alcatel-Lucent in DOJ and SEC Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation.
- Represented global health care provider in DOJ and SEC options backdating investigation.
- Represented Bloomberg for Mayor 2009 in connection with the prosecution of a former campaign official for defrauding Mayor Bloomberg in People v. John Haggerty.
- Obtained dismissal of all charges against attorney facing federal mortgage fraud charges in United States v. Meyers, et al. (S.D.N.Y.)
Audit Committee Investigations:
- Represented Audit Committee of the City of San Diego in investigation of issues relating to integrity of the City’s pension system and financial reporting.
- Represented Audit Committee of one of Korea’s largest companies in investigation conducted in Korea and the U.S. of accounting and financial reporting issues.
- Successfully represented Jordan Dubai Islamic Bank in lifting a court order which had frozen its assets.
- Defended major accounting firm in arbitration against wrongful termination claims brought by former partner and director, obtaining defense verdict on all claims.
- Successfully defended investment manager Kingdon Capital Management in arbitration against claims brought by former senior executive.
- Defended major accounting firm in civil action brought by investor in alleged tax shelter.
- Michael serves on the Criminal Justice Act Panel for the Southern District of New York, defending indigent individuals facing federal criminal charges.
- Successfully secured from Illinois’ highest court the reversal of a death sentence imposed on Earl Hawkins, a defendant who had been advised by his corrupt attorney that the only path to acquittal was to bribe the presiding judge.
- Obtained dismissal of federal criminal charges against Sierra Leone citizen wrongfully charged in narcotics conspiracy.
Prior to joining Willkie, Michael served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he focused on criminal prosecution of securities fraud and was a member of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. In that role, Michael worked closely with the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission, FINRA, and the New York Stock Exchange.
During his tenure as a prosecutor, Michael was responsible for some of the nation’s highest profile white collar prosecutions. Among Michael's prominent trial victories was the conviction of Martha Stewart and her broker, Peter Bacanovic. He was also responsible for the insider trading prosecution of Samuel Waksal, the former chief executive officer of ImClone Systems.
Michael is the Chair of the New York City Bar White Collar Committee, and serves on the board of directors of the New York City Bar Fund.
Michael’s publications include:
- “US Supreme Court Unanimously Affirms Dirks v. SEC, Long-Standing Analysis of 'Personal Benefit' for Purposes of Insider Trading Liability,” The Investment Lawyer (February 2017)
- "Government’s Burden in Insider Trading Cases Clarified," Financial Fraud Law Report (February 2013)
- "Second Circuit Decision Clarifies the Standard for Claims of Aiding and Abetting Securities Fraud," Financial Fraud Law Report (February 2013)
- "Defending an FCPA Books and Records Violation," New York Law Journal (January 24, 2013)
- "'SEC v. Obus': Second Circuit Clarifies Standards for Insider Trading," New York Law Journal (December 18, 2012)
- "The Accidental Tipper: Personal Benefit Requirement for Insider Trading," New York Law Journal (September 27, 2010)
- "Mixed Messages From Government on Suspicious Activity Reports," New York Law Journal (March 17, 2006)
Michael’s speaking engagements include:
- Panelist, Lessons Learned from Recent White Collar Trials, White Collar Crime 2019: Prosecutors and Regulators Speak. Practising Law Institute.
- Panelist, Going to Trial with the Government, 2018 SIFMA C&L Annual Seminar.
- Panelist, Lessons Learned from Recent White Collar Trials, White Collar Crime: 2016 Prosecutors and Regulators Speak, Practising Law Institute.
- Panelist, Lessons From Recent Trials, 5th Annual White Collar Crime Institute, New York City Bar.
- Panelist, Enforcement and Compliance, Ninth Annual Directors’ Institute on Corporate Governance, Practising Law Institute.
- Panelist, Nothing Mock About It: Using Jury Consultants in the Real World, American Bar Association.
- Lecturer, FCPA: Enhancing Internal Controls, Russia and CIS Summit on Anti-Corruption, American Conference Institute.
- Panelist, Defending the White Collar Case: In and Out of Court, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
- Lecturer, Representing Corporations in Securities Fraud Investigations, Practising Law Institute.