A distinguished former federal prosecutor and regulator, Bill Stellmach previously served as head of the Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice and now co-chairs the firm’s global White-Collar Defense Group, leading a team of regularly recognized as one of the premier investigations practices in the country. His practice focuses on internal and government-facing investigations, criminal and regulatory enforcement defense, and corporate monitorships, with experience across the full spectrum of federal, state, and foreign authorities. Drawing on a wide range of experience, Bill regularly represents a broad range of corporations, financial institutions, and their boards and executives in matters involving securities and commodities fraud, foreign bribery, economic sanctions, the False Claims Act, antitrust, ESG, and international money laundering. He also has extensive experience representing corporations and individuals outside the United States in cross-border inquiries and investigations.
Bill is widely recognized as a leading lawyer in the white-collar and enforcement defense practice area, most recently in Chamber USA and The Legal 500, where sources noted he was "stellar," with "a significant background at the DOJ/SEC," demonstrating an "encyclopedic knowledge," and that he was "efficient, very personable and exceptionally capable," "fantastic, even-keeled and great to work with," "epitomiz[ing] grace under pressure," and "unflappable." Additionally, the Willkie team he leads has received numerous accolades, including as “Most Impressive Investigations Practice of they Year” by Global Investigations Review. Most recently, the Justice Department and Commodity Futures Trading Commission each independently selected Bill for unique, dual monitorships for a global financial institution, with responsibility for assessing the bank's compliance program and remediation of regulatory issues arising from several enforcement resolutions.
He is a respected voice on compliance and enforcement issues, about which he writes and lectures extensively. His current commitments include providing ethical training sponsored by the New York Federal Reserve Board.
Bill is also an accomplished courtroom advocate, and has tried numerous white-collar federal cases to verdict. For his role as a prosecutor in winning a landmark $8 billion fraud trial, Bill received the U.S. Attorney General’s John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation, the Justice Department’s highest award for excellence.
At the firm, Bill has marshaled his unusual depth and breadth of experience on behalf of clients, developing a reputation as an innovative problem solver, a skilled negotiator and persuasive advocate. In particular, he has a proven track record for effectively managing investigations and containing enforcement risk.
- Representing public company in an SEC investigation into allegations of earnings management and material misrepresentations and omissions in market disclosures following multiple earnings restatements. Obtained a declination which avoided any enforcement action against the client or its officers and directors.
- Serving as Co-Monitor for the Bank of Nova Scotia for unique, dual monitorships imposed by the DOJ and the CFTC.
- Representing the Executive Chamber of the State of New York following the resignation of Governor Cuomo in multiple investigations by the State Legislature, the New York Attorney General, and other state and federal authorities.
- Representing the investment banking arm of a global financial institution in an SEC investigation into bond and complex derivative portfolio valuation practices following whistleblower allegations, and obtained a declination.
- Representing a Fortune 500 manufacturing company in an FCPA investigation focused on gifts, travel, and entertainment practices in construction of facilities in the Middle East, resulting in declinations from both the SEC and the DOJ.
- Negotiating the resolution of a novel Helms Burton lawsuit against one of the world’s leading building materials suppliers for alleged violations of U.S. sanctions, enabling continued operation of its Cuban facility and avoiding any OFAC penalties.
- Advising an Indian manufacturing company regarding ESG issues to avoid debarment by a sovereign wealth fund following public allegations of workplace safety and health issues.
- Representing an oncology pharmaceutical company in multiple investigations focusing on disclosures of clinical testing data. The engagement resulted in the client obtaining a declination from the DOJ and a favorable, non-fraud based resolution from the SEC, which also declined to pursue bars against any officers or directors.
- Representing a life sciences company in DOJ (Civil Division) and SEC investigations prompted by a qui tam action under the False Claims Act based on allegations of improper billing practices.
- Representing Mega International Commercial Bank, one of Taiwan’s largest financial institutions, in complying with consent orders with both the New York Department of Financial Services and the Federal Reserve Board alleging violations of U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea, and anti-money laundering screening deficiencies. The engagement also entailed managing successful and timely completion of an independent DFS monitorship.
- Representing a New York-based broker-dealer and its management in an investigation by the SEC and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for potential complicity in inflating the valuation of MBS at Premium Point Investments by more than $100 million. Obtained declinations from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and negotiated a favorable resolution with the SEC based on non-fraud charges, avoiding any financial penalties or bars for the broker-dealer.
- Representing the capital markets division of a global financial institution in FINRA and SEC investigations into alleged violations of trading thresholds by the London desk and a potential failure to supervise by relevant U.S.-based desk heads. Convinced regulators not to bring action against the bank or its employees.
- Representing the Audit Committee of an energy company in a targeted, 10-day internal investigation into whistleblower allegations of procurement fraud in a multibillion-dollar project in Africa, debunking the allegations on the eve of a major market disclosure.
- Representing co-founder of the largest international cryptocurrency exchange platform in multiple investigations by DOJ (Criminal Division), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, CFTC, SEC, and NY Attorney General, avoiding any charges or other penalties.
- Representing a London-based bond trader in investigations by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, and the DOJ, SEC and DFS in the U.S. into competition-related conduct. No charges were filed by any agency.
- Defending an engineering supervisor at Fiat Stellantis in a criminal investigation into misrepresentations regarding diesel emissions.
Prior Government Experience
During his tenure at the Justice Department, Bill either personally conducted or led some of the most important domestic and international investigations and prosecutions. As Acting Chief and Principal Deputy Chief of the Fraud Section, he had extensive responsibility for the Justice Department’s corporate enforcement program, including coordination with U.S. regulatory agencies and foreign authorities around the globe. Assisting clients in navigating challenging issues of cross-border investigations, particularly around data privacy and privilege, now forms a core part of his practice.
As head of the Fraud Section, Bill oversaw all criminal enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, including reviewing and approving all corporate and individual charging decisions, and coordinating with foreign enforcement partners. In addition, he also was responsible for national priority investigations involving securities and commodities fraud, sanctions violations, healthcare fraud, and government procurement. Bill regularly assessed the strength of corporate compliance programs, the rigor of internal investigations, and the quality of corporate self-disclosures, cooperation and remediation in evaluating charging decisions against numerous financial institutions and companies during his tenure. He played a leading role in developing the benchmarks for assessing cooperation and remediation used both within the Justice Department and at other federal agencies today in resolving corporate investigations.
Bill also personally conducted several of the most critical government investigations in recent memory, including global financial institutions for alleged manipulation of the LIBOR benchmark and foreign exchange markets. For his contributions and role in the LIBOR investigation, Bill was recognized with the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service. He was also co-lead trial counsel in the successful prosecution of Allen Stanford for an $8 billion cross-border securities fraud and the largest criminal asset forfeiture trial to date.
Before joining the Fraud Section, Bill served as Senior Counsel in the Division of Enforcement at the SEC, where he led an investigation into the allocation of IPO shares which resulted in a then record settlement, and later eight years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, including five years as a member of that office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Bill has investigated and prosecuted the full spectrum of complex matters, and established a reputation as a skilled courtroom advocate in trials involving securities fraud, market misconduct, bankruptcy fraud and criminal copyright infringement.
At the Firm, Bill has marshaled his unusual depth and breadth of experience on behalf of clients, developing a reputation as an innovative problem solver, a skilled negotiator and persuasive advocate. In particular, he has a proven track record for effectively managing investigations, creative strategies and containing enforcement risk.
Bill has authored the following publications and served as a keynote speaker and panelist at various forums addressing trends and significant developments in U.S. regulatory and criminal law enforcement. His publications and appearances include:
- Co-author, "The SEC and Messaging Apps," the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance, June 15, 2022.
- Panelist, "The SEC’s Emerging Agenda: Enforcement, Examination and Rulemaking Priorities," Webinar, January 20, 2022.
- Panelist, "Deconstructing Forensic Audits and Internal Investigations from a Corporate Governance Perspective," FICCI, August 24, 2021.
- Co-author, “Nasdaq Proposed Rules Promote Board Diversity: What Businesses Need to Know,” Bloomberg Law, March 2, 2021.
- Featured, “Health care ranks second on list of FCPA enforcement actions by SEC,” BioWorld, December 29, 2020.
- Panelist, “FTC and SEC Litigation, Enforcement and Application to FDA Authorities,” Food & Drug Law Institute: Enforcement, Litigation and Compliance Conference, December 16, 2020.
- Co-author, “Protecting Attorney-Client Privilege and Work-Product Doctrine in Internal Investigations,” American Bar Association: Pretrial Practice & Discovery Practice Points, October 26, 2020.
- Presenter, "Whistleblowing and corporate compliance programs post COVID-19" Webinar, August 13, 2020.
- Presenter, "Global Regulatory and Enforcement Developments In The New Normal" Webinar, August 4, 2020.
- Keynote speaker and Panelist, EY India Virtual Forum, “Beyond COVID-19: Re-Examining Bribery Risks and Sanctions Violations from an Indian and U.S. Perspective,” August 2020.
- Speaker, Privilege Pointers: Protecting Attorney-Client Privilege and Work Product in Internal Investigations," Webinar, August 18, 2020.
- Speaker, "Recent Trends and Developments in U.S. Enforcement Activities Affecting Brazil," Webinar, June 24, 2020.
- Co-author, “How Public Companies Can Minimize Risks Resulting From a Post-COVID-19 Focus on ESG Issues: Part I,” Corporate Counsel, May 15, 2020.
- Co-author, “How Public Companies Can Minimize Risks Resulting From a Post-COVID-19 Focus on ESG Issues: Part II,” Corporate Counsel, May 19, 2020.
- Presenter, “India in Focus: Bribery & Sanctions” Webinar, February 13, 2020.
- Presenter, “India in Focus Part II: Whistleblower Protection & Compliance Programs” Webinar, April 14, 2020.
- Presenter, “India in Focus Part III: Compliance Programs” Webinar, April 30, 2020.
- Keynote Speaker and Panelist, Evolving Regulatory Frameworks and their Impact on Business, Ernst & Young Roundtable, New Delhi, India, November 4, 2019.
- Moderator, Is Mexico moving towards a Level Playing Field? Compliance & Anti-Corruption Framework in Local and Cross-Border Business? United States – Mexico Chamber of Commerce, New York, February 28, 2019.
- Panelist and Presenter, Enforcement Trends in FCPA and Global Anticorruption Investigations and Navigating U.S. Sanctions, Mumbai Corporate Compliance Seminar: Anti-Corruption and Third-Party Risk Management, February 19, 2019.
- Moderator, US-Andean Investigations and Enforcement Cooperation, Andean Summit on Anti-corruption and Compliance, Bogota, December 2015.
- Panelist, FCPA, SEC/DOJ Joint Actions, and Other Criminal Enforcement Trends, Securities Enforcement Forum, Washington, November 2015.
- Keynote Speaker, Emerging Trends in U.S. Cross Border Investigations, U.S. Litigation Forum, Seoul, October 2015.
- Panelist, U.S. Prosecutors Discuss Compliance and Internal Controls Expectations. 9th Annual International Conference on Anticorruption, London, July 2015.