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SDNY Prosecutor Who Led Securities Fraud Team Joins McGuireWoods

Aug. 3, 2020, 5:19 PM

McGuireWoods has landed U.S. Department of Justice veteran Jason Cowley, a former co-head of the Southern District of New York’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force and former head of its Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Unit.

He will work for McGuireWoods’ government investigations and white-collar team out of the firm’s Charlotte, N.C. office.

Cowley joined the SDNY in 2011. Among the prosecutions he pursued in his time there were a series of cases against Swiss banks, bankers and financial intermediaries for helping U.S. taxpayers evade their tax obligations. The prosecutions involved former Swiss private bank Wegelin & Co., two Julius Baer bankers and a deferred prosecution of bank Julius Baer.

Starting in January 2017, Cowley was co-chief of the SDNY’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. He led a team of some 20 prosecutors and oversaw the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes including insider trading, corporate embezzlement, and accounting fraud.

That included directing the prosecution of Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), who resigned and pled guilty last year to insider trading and making false statements to the FBI. Also, Cowley pursued a case against former KPMG partner, David Britt, who pled guilty in federal court in New York last year to a count of committing wire fraud connected to using stolen government information to learn about surprise regulatory inspections of the firm’s audits.

Cowley also worked earlier in his over 13-year DOJ career as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of North Carolina.

He said in an interview from his new office in Charlotte that he expected a heavy workload in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic’s disruptions to businesses, including international cases.

“There are likely to be a number of instances like Ponzi schemes, investment entities cooking the books regarding asset evaluations, bankruptcy fraud plus insider trading that will surface as the Justice Department and SEC investigate reports of financial crimes,” Cowley said.

Cowley said that he is now on the defense side, but expected to be tapped by a range of financial entities to help with problems that surface in the wake of Covid-19.

“My job is to get to the bottom of things, and to figure out how to fix them,” he said.

Todd Steggerda, chair of McGuireWoods’ government investigations and white collar litigation department said in a statement, that “Jason’s extensive experience leading sensitive, high-profile investigations and prosecutions, particularly in financial services, capital markets and ant-money laundering-related matters, will serve our clients well in the United States and across out international platform.”

The addition of Cowley to McGuireWoods brings the number of lawyers in its white-collar litigation group to more than 60, who are mostly former federal prosecutors and enforcement officials and former U.S. attorneys. The firm, which added three federal prosecutors to its ranks in 2019, has around 1,100 lawyers globally.

To contect the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Olson in Washington at

To contact the editor on this story: Rebekah Mintzer in New York at
Chris Opfer in New York at