Jonathan Abernethy represents clients in white collar criminal and regulatory investigations, internal investigations, and complex commercial litigation. He is an expert on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), having handled significant FCPA matters as a prosecutor and in the private sector. Jon also represents companies and individuals in sensitive investigations and prosecutions involving securities fraud, money laundering, wire and mail fraud, public corruption, antitrust, commodities fraud, health care fraud, and other white collar matters. He has extensive experience with various U.S. Attorney’s Offices, the Department of Justice, the SEC, the CFTC, the New York Attorney General’s Office, and the Manhattan D.A.’s Office.
Jon has been recognized in Chambers USA‘s white collar and government investigations category each year since 2015. He is also recognized in Legal 500‘s United States coverage for corporate investigations and white collar criminal defense and by Super Lawyers as one of the top 100 lawyers in the New York metropolitan area. He has been named one of New York’s Super Lawyers for white collar criminal defense each year since 2010.
Prior to joining the firm, Jon served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he was a lead prosecutor on FCPA, money laundering, and financial fraud cases, and practiced at Fulbright & Jaworski.
Jon is a graduate of Stanford University and Columbia Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. He served as a Law Clerk to the Honorable Ronald L. Buckwalter of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Jon is a frequent lecturer and has written articles for the New York Law Journal, the ABA Securities Litigation Journal, and other publications.
Jonathan Abernethy represents clients in white collar criminal and regulatory investigations, internal investigations, and complex commercial litigation. He is an expert on the Foreign…
Columbia Law School (J.D. 1996); Stanford University (B.A., with highest honors, 1991)
New York State; Massachusetts State; U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Activities and Affiliations
Member, American Bar Association (Criminal Justice Section)
Regional Representative for North America, Criminal Law Committee, International Bar Association
Member, New York Council of Defense Lawyers
Member, New York City Bar Association
Member, New York State Bar Association (Committee on White Collar Criminal Litigation)
Elder, First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn
Won a motion to dismiss an FCPA complaint brought by the SEC against a former investment analyst for hedge fund Och-Ziff who had been charged with FCPA anti-bribery and books and records violations relating to mining investments by Och-Ziff in Africa.
Represented two energy companies in FCPA investigations relating to their operations in several countries in West Africa.
Represented an engineering and construction company in an investigation relating to potential FCPA violations in the Middle East.
Led FCPA and anti-corruption due diligence for an energy company on an acquisition target in Mexico.
Led FCPA and anti-corruption due diligence for a mining company on an acquisition target in West Africa.
Other White Collar, Regulatory, and Internal Investigations Matters
Representation of former Wynnefield Capital hedge fund analyst Peter Black in SEC v. Obus, an insider trading case brought by the SEC in the Southern District of New York, in which the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict after a two-week trial.
Representation of an individual in connection with criminal and regulatory investigations into the setting of LIBOR rates.
Representation of a hedge fund in an investigation by the New York County District Attorney’s Office into its trading practices.
Served as pool counsel for several employees in wire and mail fraud investigations by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.
Represented a celebrity extortion victim in a case prosecuted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Significant Prosecution in the U.S. Attorney’s Office
Served as a lead prosecutor in an FCPA case involving a bribery scheme in connection with a state-run privatization program in Azerbaijan, which resulted in the conviction of Frederic Bourke in July 2009 in one of the few FCPA cases ever tried.
Legal 500 has once again recognized Cohen & Gresser in its United States guide. The firm is recognized for its excellence in the following categories:
- Corporate Investigations/White Collar
- Corporate Investigations/White Collar – Advice to Individuals
- General Commercial Disputes
- Securities Litigation Defense
Legal 500 notes that C&G has “impressive cross border capabilities and is often retained by clients in multijurisdictional disputes” and that our disputes team members are “true litigators, focused, and thoughtful - no stone is left unturned.”
Chambers has again recognized C&G for its excellence in General Commercial Litigation, Securities Litigation, and White Collar Crime & Government Investigations. Chambers notes C&G’s “strong commitment to client service” and “top-quality advice,” labeling the firm as “outstanding.”
Chambers also recognized the following individuals: Jonathan S Abernethy for White Collar Crime & Government Investigations; Karen H Bromberg for Intellectual Property: Patent; and Mark S Cohen for General Commercial Litigation, Securities Litigation, and White Collar Crime & Government Investigations.
A Cohen & Gresser litigation team led by Mark S Cohen and Jonathan S Abernethy recently won a major victory in a high profile Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) case on behalf of client, Vanja Baros, a former investment analyst with hedge fund Och-Ziff (one of the world’s largest publicly traded hedge funds). In July, a federal court in New York dismissed the SEC’s entire complaint against Baros and his co-defendant, and the SEC recently declined to appeal the court’s decision, which is therefore final.
Global Investigations Review (GIR) has nominated Cohen & Gresser for its Most Important Court Case of the Year award for C&G’s major victory in a high profile FCPA case on behalf of a former investment analyst with international hedge fund Och-Ziff. A federal court in New York dismissed the SEC’s entire complaint against our client and his co-defendant, and the SEC declined to appeal. Mark S Cohen and Jonathan S Abernethy led the C&G team, which also included S Gale Dick, Colin C Bridge, and Reggie B Schafer.
Legal 500 has once again recognized Cohen & Gresser in its United States guide. The firm is recognized for its achievements in the following categories:
- Corporate Investigations/White Collar – Advice to Corporates
- Corporate Investigations/White Collar – Advice to Individuals
- General Commercial Disputes
- Securities Litigation Defense
Legal 500 notes that C&G has “an excellent group of sophisticated lawyers” and "has the ability to explain complex structures in plain English.” Nine C&G partners were individually recognized in the guide.
Chambers has recognized Cohen & Gresser in its 2018 USA guide. The firm is recognized for its excellence in General Commercial Litigation, Securities Litigation, and White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations.
Chambers notes that C&G is "a very high-quality firm" with "very smart, very capable people who are very dedicated to their clients," and that C&G attorneys "have great judgment and are excellent lawyers."
Chambers also recognized the following individuals:
Jonathan S Abernethy for White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations, Karen H Bromberg for Intellectual Property: Patent, and Mark S Cohen for Securities Litigation and for White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations.
Chambers USA and Legal 500's United States guides have recognized Cohen & Gresser and a number of the firm's lawyers for outstanding achievements during the past year in the categories of Commercial Litigation, Securities Litigation, Patents, and Corporate Investigations and White Collar Defense.
A recent ruling in favor of Cohen & Gresser client Peter Black marked the end of one of the longest SEC's trials in history. AmLaw's Litigation Daily recognized this victory by naming Mark S Cohen as a "Litigator of the Week".
On Friday, May 30, 2014, a Cohen & Gresser trial team led by Mark S Cohen and Jonathan S Abernethy won a major trial victory on behalf of its client, Wynnefield Capital Inc. analyst Peter Black, in an insider trading case brought by the SEC.
Chambers USA ranked Cohen & Gresser's White Collar Defense group and listed its Securities Litigation group as a Recognized Practice. In its analysis, Chambers USA commented that the firm is "[n]oted for its litigation capabilities across the full spectrum of industry sectors" and has a "[r]espected white-collar crime and government investigations practice."
Mark S. Cohen is ranked in the White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations category, has been described as being an "effective advocate and very effective at counseling a client through a very difficult investigative process." Jonathan S Abernethy, also ranked in the White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations category, received praise for his "excellent knowledge of the law."
Cohen & Gresser is defending an individual accused of participating in an insider trading scam in a long-standing case brought by the SEC. Law360 covered the beginning of the trial and Partner Mark S. Cohen’s opening statement.
Jonathan S Abernethy, S Gale Dick, and Christian R Everdell authored an article titled “The Department of Justice’s new ‘piling on’ policy” for the International Bar Association’s October 2018 Criminal Law and Business Crime Newsletter.
This article first appeared on the website of the Criminal Law Committee of the Legal Practice Division of the International Bar Association, and is reproduced by kind permission of the International Bar Association, London, UK. © International Bar Association.
In July 2017, a United States appeals court threw out the convictions of two men charged with Libor manipulation, because key evidence was derived from testimony that had been compelled in the United Kingdom, in violation of their rights under the US Constitution, with potentially broad implications for furture cross-border investigations. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ruled in US v Allen that the Fifth Amendment priviledge against self-incrimination extends to testimony compelled by other soverign governments. This article exmines the Allen ruling and its likely implications.
The SEC has recently signaled a renewed focus on the investigation and prosecution of accounting fraud with the creation of a Financial Reporting and Audit Task Force. The Task Force will use sophisticated computer algorithms to mine financial filings looking for potential irregularities. The SEC is expected to take a close look at companies particularly in the technology sector, and at revenue recognition. The article examines recent public statements and SEC enforcement actions that help provide clues to the SEC’s renewed focus in this area.
South Korea’s equivalent to the FCPA is the Foreign Bribery Prevention Act or FBPA for short. Although passed more than 15 years ago, it was rarely used—until now. Recent activity under the act is an encouraging sign that Korea may be stepping up its enforcement activity.
Recent court decisions concerning the interplay of the FCPA and personal jurisdiction over foreign nationals provide guidance for corporate counsel on FCPA risks. The bottomline—adopt, maintain, and continually update robust compliance and training programs throughout the organization, set the proper tone at management levels throughout the company, and, as appropriate, insist that third party intermediaries with whom the company works follow those same policies.
The long arm of U.S. law can be seen clearly in recent enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act or FCPA, a criminal law prohibiting bribery of non-U.S. government officials. Companies whose operations even remotely touch the U.S. and who therefore could come within the FCPA’s jurisdiction should consider implementing anti-corruption compliance programs to prevent, detect, and remediate violations. Such programs can be a key mitigating factor in U.S. regulators’ decisions whether to bring an enforcement action or in the penalties sought if an action is brought.
Last year saw a sharp increase in investigations targeting the illicit flows of funds through financial institutions. In three prominent enforcement actions in 2012—against ING, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC—prosecutors and regulators extracted massive fines for conduct ranging from intentional concealment of illicit transactions to ineffective monitoring.
The Guide addresses several key issues arising from the FCPA on which multinationals have long sought guidance, including (i) the elements of an effective anti-corruption compliance program; (ii) gifts and entertainment expenses; (iii) facilitating payments; (iv) the FCPA's broad definition of "foreign official"; (v) successor liability when a company merges with or acquires another company that has committed acts of bribery; and (vi) FCPA jurisdiction over foreign companies that do not trade on U.S. exchanges.
Examining how FCPA whistleblowers have been incentivized and the impacts this rewards structure may have on ‘business as usual’.
Examining the Dodd-Frank and US Foreign Corrupt Practices Acts and ways in which companies can institute and augment compliance programs to mitigate the risks they pose.
The implications of the Galleon ruling in terms of white collar defense - specifically the growing use of wiretapping during insider trading investigations.
Mark S Cohen and Muriel Goldberg-Darmon served as guest lecturers at the Université Paris I – Panthéon Sorbonne for the 2017 fall semester. They taught a course titled “U.S. White Collar Criminal Law” to students in the Master 2 (JD equivalent) program. The course covered the fundamental principles of U.S. criminal law and a review of the key participants in white collar criminal practice. The course also covered substantive white collar issues, such as FCPA, banking, and finance-related issues. Jonathan S Abernethy and Christian R Everdell served as visiting lecturers. Reggie B Schafer served as the course’s teaching assistant.
- Handling multi-jurisdictional approaches to privileged communications in the aftermath of the recent UK decision in Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation Ltd. and The RBS Rights Issue Litigation.
- Identifying potential cultural challenges and local laws that may impede an effective investigation and prevent a one-size-fits-all approach to designing internal processes and procedures within multinational organizations.
- Implementing best practices when preparing for and coordinating effective internal investigations across international lines.
Jon participated in a panel at the IBA’s 20th Annual Transnational Crime Conference in Lisbon, Portugal. The panel, entitled “The Right to Silence When Everyone Else Is Talking,” examined the right against self-incrimination from the perspective of several countries in a world of increased cross-border information sharing between investigators, regulators, and prosecuting authorities.
Experiential legal learning platform AltaClaro has partnered with international law firm Cohen & Gresser, LLP to host a live online panel to discuss current trends in anti-money laundering enforcement. The panel is complimentary for in-house counsel, white-collar and regulatory attorneys, and compliance professionals.
This course will examine the legal principles surrounding extraterritorial application of U.S. criminal law and its limitations. It will also cover methods U.S. prosecutors use to gather evidence overseas, as well as general principles of law concerning extradition of foreign nationals.
Jon participated in this panel at Deloitte’s 10th Annual U.S. Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Conference at Fordham Law School in New York.
C&G partner Jonathan S Abernethy will speak at the 2014 Annual Conference of the International Association of Korean Lawyers (IAKL) at Fordham Law School in New York City. Mr. Abernethy will be a panelist on the Conference’s Anti-Corruption Panel, and will address, among other subjects, recent trends in FCPA enforcement and how companies can mitigate risks through effective compliance programs and procedures.
Drawing prominent members of the white–collar bar, this panel addresses current issues relating to government investigations and compliance, public integrity, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
- White Collar Defense & Regulation