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Stephen G. Topetzes

Partner
+1.202.778.9328
Fax +1.202.778.9100

Steve Topetzes is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office. His practice centers on the defense of financial services clients and other companies or individuals with respect to government investigations, regulatory or private litigation and corporate internal investigations. He represents public companies, boards of directors, banks, broker-dealers, investment advisers, investment companies, underwriters and individuals in investigations or examinations by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), federal banking regulators and state securities regulators or attorneys general. He also has extensive experience handling complex litigation, regulatory enforcement proceedings, class action lawsuits, mutual fund excessive fee litigation and arbitrations.

Mr. Topetzes advises clients with respect to investigations or litigation involving:

  • Corporate disclosure issues 
  • Broker-Dealer regulation
  • Securities sales practice, investment banking or asset securitization issues
  • Investment management and registered or private funds
  • Accounting irregularities and financial reporting issues
  • Alleged insider trading or market manipulation
  • Conflicts of interest or asserted corporate governance failures
  • Claims against corporate officers or directors
  • Compliance or supervisory issues
  • Mortgage origination and servicing
  • Whistleblowers
  • The False Claims Act and FIRREA
  • Municipal Securities
  • Anti-Money Laundering Procedures
His practice includes frequent representation of accountants and lawyers with respect to regulatory investigations or proceedings and related shareholder claims.

Achievements

Steve was selected as one of the finest law firm writers of 2016 as announced by The Burton Awards, in association with the Library of Congress, and co-sponsored by the American Bar Association. He has also been named by U.S. News & World Report- Best Lawyers the 2015 “Lawyer of the Year” for Securities Regulation in Washington, DC.  Listed in Best Lawyers since 2010, Mr. Topetzes has consistently received recognition from Best Lawyers in the categories of Securities Regulation and Litigation - Securities.  Mr. Topetzes also has received the Martindale-Hubbell® AV® Preeminent™ 5.0 out of 5 rating (The highest possible peer review rating in legal ability and ethical standards for all lawyers) for many years.  In addition, he is consistently recognized by Super Lawyers in the category of Securities Litigation.

Publications and Speaking Engagements

Mr. Topetzes is a regular speaker and author regarding topics related to government enforcement, corporate governance and internal investigations.

  • Defended senior accounting officer at Fortune 100 company with respect to SEC action involving alleged billion dollar revenue recognition fraud; all claims against client dismissed before trial after extensive litigation.
  • Defended clearing broker-dealer and its President in SEC administrative proceeding related to alleged role in improper pricing, alteration of trade tickets and fraud by correspondent securities firm; all claims asserted against clients were dismissed by administrative law judge; an appeal filed by the SEC staff was later rejected by the SEC.
  • Represented investment companies in civil litigation involving claims related to impermissible portfolio investments; summary judgment granted in favor of clients by federal district court; ruling in favor of clients was later affirmed by U.S. Court of Appeals
  • Represented corporate CEO with respect to SEC and DOJ investigations regarding propriety of transactions with vendor and distribution of stock to officers of vendor company; no claims or charges were brought against the client.
  • Represented investment adviser to large mutual fund complex and affiliated broker-dealer in shareholder lawsuits alleging excessive fees and improper relationships with securities firms that sold mutual fund shares; successfully argued motions to dismiss at the District Court level and before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Conducted numerous internal investigations for mortgage originators and mortgage servicers involving FHA-insured loan origination and servicing policies and procedures, and foreclosure practices
  • Defended banks and other large financial services firms with respect to investigations by numerous U.S. Attorneys (including SDNY and EDNY) and the DOJ Civil Fraud Section under the False Claims Act and FIRREA
  • Represented large bank with respect to investigation by CFPB regarding the integrity of mortgage-related data
  • Defended mutual fund directors in SEC investigation regarding adequacy of contract renewal (Section 15(c)) process and related disclosures; investigation concluded with no action against clients
  • Defended large, national broker-dealer with respect to claims asserted in multi district litigation proceeding related to mutual fund market timing; motion to dismiss granted and all claims against client were dismissed
  • Conducted numerous internal investigations growing out of whistleblower reports at banks, broker-dealers and investment advisers
  • Defended broker-dealers and investment advisers with respect to multiple investigations by the SEC and FINRA regarding revenue sharing, so-called “shelf space” arrangements or other distribution-related transactions involving mutual funds or other products
  • One of the lead lawyers representing the bankruptcy examiners appointed with respect to WorldCom and New Century Financial Corporation; participated in key aspects of large investigations of reported accounting irregularities
  • Defended numerous broker-dealers and associated persons with respect to “sweeps” and other investigations by FINRA regarding mutual fund sales practices, sales or exchanges of variable annuities, sales of unit investment trusts, Form U-4 and Form U-5 reporting, municipal bond underwriting or trading practices, adequacy of due diligence procedures, sales of auction rates securities, and related supervisory issues
  • Represented large broker-dealer with respect SEC and multiple, coordinated state regulatory investigations or proceedings related to sales of junk bond mutual funds; helped negotiate “global” settlement of regulatory and investor claims
  • Represented numerous banks and broker-dealers with respect to regulatory investigations or proceedings concerning the reasonableness of their anti-money laundering programs and practices relative to the filing of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARS)