Benjamin Naftalis is the Global Vice Chair of the White Collar Defense & Investigations Practice and a partner in the Litigation & Trial Department.
A former federal prosecutor, Mr. Naftalis is an experienced trial and appellate lawyer who represents financial institutions, corporations, and individuals in white collar criminal defense and regulatory matters, internal investigations, complex civil litigation, and a range of other sensitive situations, throughout the US and internationally.
Mr. Naftalis is consistently recognized as a leading white collar and complex commercial litigator. He has been recognized by Chambers USA and The Legal 500 US in the areas of white collar criminal defense and government investigations. In 2016, he was named to Law360’s list of white collar Rising Stars and recognized as a Rising Star by the New York Law Journal. In 2012, he received the US Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service – the DOJ’s second highest award.
Mr. Naftalis has extensive experience appearing before a wide range of US regulators, including the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), among others. He advises clients in navigating allegations of securities and corporate fraud, insider trading, market manipulation, sanctions, money laundering, accounting and healthcare fraud, and international bribery and corruption.
Mr. Naftalis maintains an extensive civil litigation practice. He regularly counsels clients across a spectrum of disciplines, including business disputes in federal and state courts and securities litigation.
Mr. Naftalis also regularly counsels private equity firms and hedge funds in deal-related diligence, trading, litigation, and regulatory compliance matters.
From 2006 to 2014, Mr. Naftalis served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York. As a member of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force, he investigated and prosecuted a wide range of federal securities and commodities fraud offenses, and led parallel civil enforcement proceedings with the SEC, CFTC, and other agencies. Mr. Naftalis also served as a member of the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit, where he led many of the government’s highest-profile extraterritorial matters involving terrorism and national security, international money-laundering, and global narcotics trafficking. There, he coordinated regularly with US and foreign law-enforcement, intelligence services, and regulators.
Mr. Naftalis has tried eight federal jury trials and briefed and argued more than ten appeals before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, including questions of first impression related to the extraterritorial reach of securities fraud prosecutions.
Prior to joining the US Attorney’s Office, Mr. Naftalis clerked for Judge Jed S. Rakoff of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York and Judge Dennis Jacobs of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. He began his career as a corporate development analyst at DoubleClick, later acquired by Google. Mr. Naftalis continues to counsel leading and emerging technology companies.
Mr. Naftalis is a member of the New York City Bar’s White Collar Committee and a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He also serves on the global steering committee of Latham’s Women Enriching Business (WEB) initiative.
Mr. Naftalis has represented clients in a range of matters, including:
Financial Institutions and Issuers
- An international financial institution in a global, multi-jurisdictional criminal and regulatory sanctions and money laundering investigation
- An international financial institution in a European Commission cartel investigation related to trading of foreign exchange products
- An international financial institution in a regulatory investigation related to equity research, resulting in a full declination
- A broker-dealer in a regulatory inquiry related to options and equity trading
- An accounting firm in an SEC enforcement investigation related to a public company audit
- A defense supply contractor in a DOJ investigation, resulting in a full declination
- A global automotive manufacturer in SEC and DOJ securities fraud investigations
- A US-based, publicly traded consumer products company in securing the successful dismissal of a Section 11 securities class action related to its IPO, and in subsequent class and derivative actions
- A US-based SaaS company in an SEC investigation and related federal securities class action related to non-GAAP accounting metrics
- A private equity firm in a federal securities class action and related regulatory inquiry
- A pharmaceutical company in criminal and civil DOJ investigations relating to off-label marketing and anti-kickback allegations
- A leading pharmaceutical distributor in criminal and civil investigations by DOJ related to the distribution of controlled substances
- A German auto engineer in successfully resolving a DOJ investigation (no action pursued) related to the “Dieselgate” scandal
- The general counsel of a publicly traded company in an accounting fraud prosecution (no action pursued) brought by the US Attorney’s Office for Southern District of New York and SEC
- A former board chair in an insider trading prosecution brought by the US Attorney’s Office for Southern District of New York and the SEC
- Employees of a global financial institution in connection with foreign exchange trading issues
- An employee of a leading cryptocurrency firm in investigations brought by the DOJ, CFTC, and other regulators
Complex Civil Litigation
- A pharmaceutical company in a civil action brought following a post-acquisition dispute
- The principal investors in a fantasy sports company in successfully resolving multiple investigations and related civil litigation
- A movie production company in civil actions and regulatory investigations following a fire
- A film financing company in a US$100 million fraud action against movie studio and its officers
- A leading petrochemical company in a contractual dispute related to an infrastructure project
- An international inter-governmental organization in various arbitration matters
As a federal prosecutor in the US Attorney’s Office, Mr. Naftalis directed important and sensitive federal investigations, involving securities fraud, mail and wire fraud, domestic and international narcotics trafficking, money laundering, sanctions violations, and material support of terrorist organizations:
- U.S. v. Vilar. Successfully prosecuted two former hedge fund managers of the US$8 billion Amerindo hedge fund following an eight week jury trial*
- U.S. v. Greenwood. Successfully prosecuted the principals of the multibillion dollar WG Trading hedge fund*
- U.S. v. Warsame. Led investigation and successful prosecution of an al Shabaab commander and emissary to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on terrorism charges*
- U.S. v. Guzman. Successfully prosecuted the so-called “Bernie Madoff of Colombia” for running an international money laundering and Ponzi scheme*
- U.S. v. Shavers. Led first federal criminal securities fraud prosecution of a cryptocurrency-based fraud scheme*
*Matter handled prior to joining Latham