Benjamin Naftalis is the Global Vice Chair of the White Collar Defense & Investigations Practice and a partner in the Litigation & Trial Department of Latham & Watkins.
A former federal prosecutor, Mr. Naftalis is a trial 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.
Prior to joining Latham, Mr. Naftalis served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 2006 to 2014. As a member of the Southern District’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force, Mr. Naftalis investigated and prosecuted a wide range of white collar matters related to insider trading, accounting fraud, market manipulation and pump-and-dump schemes, broker-dealer and investment advisor fraud, mismarking of securities, dark pools, high-frequency trading, and cryptocurrencies.
As a member of the Southern District’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit, Mr. Naftalis led many of the government’s highest-profile extraterritorial investigations involving terrorism and national security, international money-laundering, and global narcotics trafficking that targeted senior al Qaeda and al Shabaab operatives and narcotics kingpins. He has deep experience conducting investigations in parallel with US and foreign law-enforcement, intelligence services, and regulators, including the FBI, SEC, CFTC, FINRA, OFAC, DEA’s Special Operations Division, Department of Defense, Department of State, and High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group.
Mr. Naftalis is also an experienced first-chair trial and appellate lawyer. He has tried eight federal jury trials, and briefed and argued more than 10 appeals before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, including addressing questions of first impression related to challenges to the extraterritorial reach of securities fraud prosecutions.
Mr. Naftalis is 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 Rising Stars in the White Collar area, and recognized as a Rising Star by the New York Law Journal. In 2012, Mr. Naftalis received the US Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service — the Department of Justice’s second highest award.
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, a technology company later acquired by Google.
Mr. Naftalis is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Naftalis’ experience includes the representation of:
- An international financial institution in a global, multi-jurisdictional criminal and regulatory sanctions investigation
- An international financial institution related to FX options trading
- An international financial institution in a regulatory investigation related to equity research
- A broker-dealer in a regulatory inquiry related to options and equity trading
- A public technology company in an SEC enforcement investigation and securities class action related to non-GAAP accounting metrics
- A German auto engineer in the global “dieselgate” scandal
- A former public-company chairman in an insider trading prosecution brought by the Southern District of New York and SEC
- A private defense supply contractor in a federal grand jury investigation, resulting in a full declination of prosecution
- A publicly traded pharmaceutical company in civil and criminal DOJ investigations of alleged off-label marketing in violation of the FDCA, FCA, and Anti-Kickback Statute
- A global accounting firm in connection with an SEC enforcement investigation related to a public company audit
- Employees of a global financial institution in connection with a foreign exchange (FX) trading
- Numerous individuals and entities in non-public investigations conducted by DOJ, SEC, and other law enforcement agencies
- The principal investors in DraftKings in state and federal investigations and related civil litigation, resulting in no action
- INTERPOL in connection with various arbitration matters
- Private equity firms and hedge funds related to deal-related counseling and diligence, trading, litigation scoping, and regulatory compliance
- Cryptocurrency concerns related to regulatory and enforcement matters
As a federal prosecutor, Mr. Naftalis directed and led hundreds of investigations in a wide variety of matters, including securities fraud, mail and wire fraud, domestic and international narcotics trafficking, money laundering, sanctions violations, and material support of terrorist organizations. Among other matters, he:
- Successfully prosecuted the former hedge fund managers of the US$8 billion Amerindo Investment Advisors fund following an eight-week jury trial*
- Successfully prosecuted the principals of the multi-billion dollar WG Trading hedge fund*
- Led the investigation and successful prosecution of Ahmed Warsame, an al Shabaab commander and emissary to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, on terrorism charges*
- Led the investigation and prosecution of David Murcia Guzman (DMG) — referred to in the press as the “Bernie Madoff of Colombia” — and several confederates for running an international money laundering enterprise*
- Investigated and prosecuted Daniel “Loco” Barrera — named by the President of Colombia as “the last of the great kingpins” — for narcotics trafficking and money laundering*
- Investigated and brought the first federal criminal securities fraud prosecution of a cryptocurrency-based investment scheme*
*Matter handled prior to joining Latham