William F. McGovern photo
William F. McGovern
Lawyer
New York
800 Third Avenue
New York, New York 10022
+1 212 488 1210
New York
800 Third Avenue
New York, New York 10022
+1 212 488 1210

William McGovern's practice focuses on high-stakes cross-border government enforcement and investigation matters, with a particular emphasis on matters with an Asia nexus. He counsels public companies, investment advisers, proprietary trading firms, and officers and directors facing sensitive investigations or criminal enforcement proceedings, often conducted by multiple government agencies including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption, and the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission.

Mr. McGovern previously served as a New York prosecutor, during which time he was appointed as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to participate in the investigation and prosecution of an election fraud case involving candidates for the New York City Board of Education. He has also served as a U.S. SEC branch chief. He spent much of his career based in Hong Kong as a senior lawyer with Morgan Stanley Asia and subsequently as a managing partner for Kobre & Kim Hong Kong. As a Hong Kong solicitor and a New York-admitted lawyer, Mr. McGovern often helps clients navigate the complex issues that arise in cross-border investigations, including uncovering misconduct within an organization as a result of fraud or misappropriation.

Recognized in leading professional directories as a practical problem-solver, Mr. McGovern enjoys opportunities to speak and write about his work on global enforcement matters and investigations, specifically focusing on the interaction between the U.S. and Asia. 

Admissions

  • New York
  • Solicitor, Hong Kong
  • U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York

Education

  • Temple University School of Law, JD
  • University of Pennsylvania, BA

Accolades

  • Benchmark Litigation, Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution
  • Chambers Asia-Pacific, Corporate Investigations/Anti-Corruption (International Firms)(China)
  • Chambers Asia-Pacific, Dispute Resolution: Litigation (International Firms)(China)
  • Chambers Global, Corporate Investigations/Anti-Corruption (International Firms)(China)
  • The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, Anti-Corruption and Compliance (Hong Kong)
  • The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, Dispute Resolution (Hong Kong)
  • Who’s Who Legal, Investigations

Select Engagements

Investigations & Monitorships

  • Representation of a multinational U.S.-based Fortune 100 company in an internal investigation of possible Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations stemming from their operations in Asia.
  • Representation of the special committee of the board of directors for a major media publication in conducting a preliminary investigation into allegations of misconduct in the sale of overseas licensing rights, stemming from a whistleblower complaint.
  • Internal investigation of the Hong Kong office of a U.S. commodities trading firm in connection with a money laundering inquiry.
  • Representation of an international medical equipment manufacturer in an internal investigation related to bribery allegations involving trips to Asia.
  • Representation of 20+ employees of major global real estate and entertainment development company with operations in Asia in relation to an internal investigation into possible FCPA violations.
  • Service as lead integrity monitor of the multibillion-dollar, intergovernmental Hurricane Sandy reconstruction efforts in New York City to ensure the nonoccurrence of fraud, waste and abuse.

Government Enforcement Defense

  • Representation of a Hong Kong-listed Chinese company in an investigation conducted by the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) regarding a potential violation of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance by one of the company's senior executives.
  • Representation of a senior Hong Kong-based executive of a major U.S. bank in preparing for and participating in interviews being conducted by the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, all related to alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations concerning the bank’s hiring of individuals related to or otherwise connected with Chinese government officials and employees of Chinese state-owned entities.
  • Representation of a New York-based hedge fund in responding to an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) concerning possible insider trading allegations by a manager of a competing hedge fund.
  • Representation of an employee of a Nasdaq-listed Chinese company, in connection with an internal investigation being conducted by the company's audit committee into certain cash transfers that were not disclosed in the company's financial statements.
  • Representation of a senior officer of U.S. investment bank in an internal investigation and related U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and SEC investigation regarding possible FCPA violations by the investment bank in Asia.
  • Representation of a pharmaceutical company employee in the People's Republic of China in an internal investigation into payments made to a third-party consultant in order to assess potential FCPA exposure.
  • Representation of Asian electric utility company in responding to an inquiry by the SEC regarding a possible FCPA violation by a private-sector energy company.
  • Representation of an Asia-Pacific-based company in an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York into potential anti-money laundering compliance issues.
  • Representation of a large public company located in Hong Kong in connection with an investigation by the DOJ Antitrust Division into alleged price-fixing in air cargo surcharges.
  • Representation of an Asia-based business executive in connection with criminal charges filed by the DOJ for FCPA violations stemming from work in the oil and gas industry.
  • Representation of a Japan-based executive of an international financial institution in investigations being conducted by the SEC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the DOJ into allegations of anti-competitive behavior related to derivatives products.
  • Representation of several Asia-based traders at a large multinational investment bank in response to an investigation conducted by the DOJ, SEC and the Financial Conduct Authority in relation to a foreign exchange investigation.
  • Representation of the Shanghai-based CEO of a reverse-merged Chinese company in connection with an investigation being conducted by the SEC into allegations of fraud regarding certain filings made with the agency pursuant to their listing on the Nasdaq stock market.
  • Advised on legal and regulatory risk in connection with the development of a derivatives trading platform in numerous Asian jurisdictions.
 

Professional & Community Involvement

  • Legal Outreach, Advisory Board Member
  • Grameen Foundation Asia, Founding Friend
  • International Bar Association, Member
  • American Bar Association, Member
  • Shaker Heights School Foundation, Trustee

Publications & Presentations

  • Speaker, "Investigation & Litigation in China — eDiscovery Challenges" (Fordham Law School, New York, January 2018)
  • Speaker, "Dealing With The Rise Of Overseas Prosecutors: Counseling Senior Executives Facing Criminal Exposure In Multiple Jurisdictions" (Cambridge Forums’ Global Forum on Corporate Criminal Liability, Cascais, Portugal, March 2017)
  • Co-author, "Investigations in the Middle Kingdom: What Florida Lawyers Need to Know About Internal Investigations in the People’s Republic of China" (International Law Quarterly, January 2017)
  • Co-author, "Mitigating Risk in Asia-Based Investigations" (New York Law Journal, November 2016)
  • Speaker, "The Cost of Doing Business: Understanding and Avoiding the Hazards of Internal Investigations in Asia" (Association of Corporate Counsel, Webinar, October 2016)
  • Speaker, "Comparative Legal Systems and Special Enforcement Issues in China, the US & Beyond" (ABA Criminal Justice Section’s Global White Collar Crime Institute, Shanghai, November 2015)
  • Speaker, "Hot Topics Involving U.S. Litigation and China" (Center for Chinese Legal Studies of Columbia Law School and the Chinese Business Lawyers Association, November 2015)
  • Speaker, "Rise in Individual Liability — How to Prepare for Increased Arrests, Dawn Raids and Executive Liability Charges in China and Indonesia?" (6th Global Forum on Anti-Corruption Compliance in High Risk Markets, Washington DC, July 2015)
  • Author, "In the land of the free, Chinese companies come up against the long arm of the US law" (South China Morning Post, February 2015)
  • Author, "Year of the Asian Regulator" (FinanceAsia, January 2015)
  • Speaker, "An International Conundrum: Conducting an Internal Investigation on Behalf of a Multinational Organization" (New York Law Journal, Webinar, November 2014)
  • Speaker, "Enforcement: Ensuring that You Get the Money You’re Owed" (Asialaw Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution Summit, Hong Kong, September 2014)
  • Speaker, "Navigating the White Collar Crime Landscape in China" (American Bar Association, August 2014)
  • Author, "Ready or Not, Here Come the Asian Regulators" (The Wall Street Journal, June 2014)
  • Guest Commentator, "Money for Nothing" (Radio Television Hong Kong, May 2014)
  • Speaker, "Doing Business in China" (Practising Law Institute — The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and International Anti-Corruption Developments 2014, May 2014)
  • Author, "Emerging Anti-bribery Risks for MNCs Operating in China" (The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and International Anti-Corruption Developments in 2014, Practising Law Institute, March 2014)
  • Speaker, "Investigating Corruption in China — Finding Balance" (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law Seminar, March 2014)
  • Speaker, "Thought Leaders Conference" (Morgan Stanley, November 2013)
  • Speaker, "SEC Regulation Outside the United States" (Investoregulation Financial Conference, March 2013)
  • Speaker, "Will Corporate Transparency Survive in Hong Kong?" (Foreign Correspondents’ Club, February 2013)
  • Speaker, "CSRC and SEC: In Search of a Path Forward" (Chinese Business Lawyers Association, February 2013)
  • Contributor, "SEC Investigations Expanded to Cayman Islands, the Tax Haven" (The Economic Observer, February 2013)
  • Co-author, "Scars of Sparring Over Audit Access" (Shanghai Daily, January 2013)
  • Co-author, "Controversy Over Auditing May Lead to a Wave of China Delistings in US (審計爭議或掀內企退市潮)" (Oriental Daily News, December 2012)
  • Speaker, "Financial Due Diligence and Anti-bribery Laws" (International Bar Association’s Asia Pacific Mergers and Acquisitions Conference, November 2012)
  • Author, "Resolving SEC-China Impasse is Negotiators’ Job" (China Daily, June 2012)
  • Speaker, "How to Serve Clients in China with Your U.S. Litigation Practice" (American Bar Association, May 2012)
  • Speaker, "Risks and Solutions for Chinese Companies listed in the United States" (Willis, Skadden, and FTI Consulting, November 2011)
  • Speaker, "Understanding Compliance and the SEC's Enforcement Program" (Investoregulation's Conference on SEC Regulation Outside the United States, October 2011)
  • Speaker, "What Bernie Madoff Can Teach Us About Due Diligence and the Psychology of Investing" (STEP, Hong Kong, December 2010)
  • Speaker, "SEC Enforcement Division: Bigger, Stronger, Faster. Why Should the Korean Business Community Care?" (IAKL, September 2010)
  • Speaker, "Coordinating a Response to Allegations of Financial Fraud" (Bar Association of the City of New York, January 2006)
  • Speaker, "Estimating Damages in Securities Litigation" (Law Seminars International, June 2005)

Credentials

Admissions

  • New York
  • Solicitor, Hong Kong
  • U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York

Education

  • Temple University School of Law, JD
  • University of Pennsylvania, BA

Accolades

  • Benchmark Litigation, Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution
  • Chambers Asia-Pacific, Corporate Investigations/Anti-Corruption (International Firms)(China)
  • Chambers Asia-Pacific, Dispute Resolution: Litigation (International Firms)(China)
  • Chambers Global, Corporate Investigations/Anti-Corruption (International Firms)(China)
  • The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, Anti-Corruption and Compliance (Hong Kong)
  • The Legal 500 Asia-Pacific, Dispute Resolution (Hong Kong)
  • Who’s Who Legal, Investigations

Engagements

Investigations & Monitorships

  • Representation of a multinational U.S.-based Fortune 100 company in an internal investigation of possible Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations stemming from their operations in Asia.
  • Representation of the special committee of the board of directors for a major media publication in conducting a preliminary investigation into allegations of misconduct in the sale of overseas licensing rights, stemming from a whistleblower complaint.
  • Internal investigation of the Hong Kong office of a U.S. commodities trading firm in connection with a money laundering inquiry.
  • Representation of an international medical equipment manufacturer in an internal investigation related to bribery allegations involving trips to Asia.
  • Representation of 20+ employees of major global real estate and entertainment development company with operations in Asia in relation to an internal investigation into possible FCPA violations.
  • Service as lead integrity monitor of the multibillion-dollar, intergovernmental Hurricane Sandy reconstruction efforts in New York City to ensure the nonoccurrence of fraud, waste and abuse.

Government Enforcement Defense

  • Representation of a Hong Kong-listed Chinese company in an investigation conducted by the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) regarding a potential violation of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance by one of the company's senior executives.
  • Representation of a senior Hong Kong-based executive of a major U.S. bank in preparing for and participating in interviews being conducted by the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, all related to alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations concerning the bank’s hiring of individuals related to or otherwise connected with Chinese government officials and employees of Chinese state-owned entities.
  • Representation of a New York-based hedge fund in responding to an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) concerning possible insider trading allegations by a manager of a competing hedge fund.
  • Representation of an employee of a Nasdaq-listed Chinese company, in connection with an internal investigation being conducted by the company's audit committee into certain cash transfers that were not disclosed in the company's financial statements.
  • Representation of a senior officer of U.S. investment bank in an internal investigation and related U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and SEC investigation regarding possible FCPA violations by the investment bank in Asia.
  • Representation of a pharmaceutical company employee in the People's Republic of China in an internal investigation into payments made to a third-party consultant in order to assess potential FCPA exposure.
  • Representation of Asian electric utility company in responding to an inquiry by the SEC regarding a possible FCPA violation by a private-sector energy company.
  • Representation of an Asia-Pacific-based company in an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York into potential anti-money laundering compliance issues.
  • Representation of a large public company located in Hong Kong in connection with an investigation by the DOJ Antitrust Division into alleged price-fixing in air cargo surcharges.
  • Representation of an Asia-based business executive in connection with criminal charges filed by the DOJ for FCPA violations stemming from work in the oil and gas industry.
  • Representation of a Japan-based executive of an international financial institution in investigations being conducted by the SEC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the DOJ into allegations of anti-competitive behavior related to derivatives products.
  • Representation of several Asia-based traders at a large multinational investment bank in response to an investigation conducted by the DOJ, SEC and the Financial Conduct Authority in relation to a foreign exchange investigation.
  • Representation of the Shanghai-based CEO of a reverse-merged Chinese company in connection with an investigation being conducted by the SEC into allegations of fraud regarding certain filings made with the agency pursuant to their listing on the Nasdaq stock market.
  • Advised on legal and regulatory risk in connection with the development of a derivatives trading platform in numerous Asian jurisdictions.

News

Professional & Community Involvement

  • Legal Outreach, Advisory Board Member
  • Grameen Foundation Asia, Founding Friend
  • International Bar Association, Member
  • American Bar Association, Member
  • Shaker Heights School Foundation, Trustee

Publications & Presentations

  • Speaker, "Investigation & Litigation in China — eDiscovery Challenges" (Fordham Law School, New York, January 2018)
  • Speaker, "Dealing With The Rise Of Overseas Prosecutors: Counseling Senior Executives Facing Criminal Exposure In Multiple Jurisdictions" (Cambridge Forums’ Global Forum on Corporate Criminal Liability, Cascais, Portugal, March 2017)
  • Co-author, "Investigations in the Middle Kingdom: What Florida Lawyers Need to Know About Internal Investigations in the People’s Republic of China" (International Law Quarterly, January 2017)
  • Co-author, "Mitigating Risk in Asia-Based Investigations" (New York Law Journal, November 2016)
  • Speaker, "The Cost of Doing Business: Understanding and Avoiding the Hazards of Internal Investigations in Asia" (Association of Corporate Counsel, Webinar, October 2016)
  • Speaker, "Comparative Legal Systems and Special Enforcement Issues in China, the US & Beyond" (ABA Criminal Justice Section’s Global White Collar Crime Institute, Shanghai, November 2015)
  • Speaker, "Hot Topics Involving U.S. Litigation and China" (Center for Chinese Legal Studies of Columbia Law School and the Chinese Business Lawyers Association, November 2015)
  • Speaker, "Rise in Individual Liability — How to Prepare for Increased Arrests, Dawn Raids and Executive Liability Charges in China and Indonesia?" (6th Global Forum on Anti-Corruption Compliance in High Risk Markets, Washington DC, July 2015)
  • Author, "In the land of the free, Chinese companies come up against the long arm of the US law" (South China Morning Post, February 2015)
  • Author, "Year of the Asian Regulator" (FinanceAsia, January 2015)
  • Speaker, "An International Conundrum: Conducting an Internal Investigation on Behalf of a Multinational Organization" (New York Law Journal, Webinar, November 2014)
  • Speaker, "Enforcement: Ensuring that You Get the Money You’re Owed" (Asialaw Asia-Pacific Dispute Resolution Summit, Hong Kong, September 2014)
  • Speaker, "Navigating the White Collar Crime Landscape in China" (American Bar Association, August 2014)
  • Author, "Ready or Not, Here Come the Asian Regulators" (The Wall Street Journal, June 2014)
  • Guest Commentator, "Money for Nothing" (Radio Television Hong Kong, May 2014)
  • Speaker, "Doing Business in China" (Practising Law Institute — The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and International Anti-Corruption Developments 2014, May 2014)
  • Author, "Emerging Anti-bribery Risks for MNCs Operating in China" (The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and International Anti-Corruption Developments in 2014, Practising Law Institute, March 2014)
  • Speaker, "Investigating Corruption in China — Finding Balance" (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Law Seminar, March 2014)
  • Speaker, "Thought Leaders Conference" (Morgan Stanley, November 2013)
  • Speaker, "SEC Regulation Outside the United States" (Investoregulation Financial Conference, March 2013)
  • Speaker, "Will Corporate Transparency Survive in Hong Kong?" (Foreign Correspondents’ Club, February 2013)
  • Speaker, "CSRC and SEC: In Search of a Path Forward" (Chinese Business Lawyers Association, February 2013)
  • Contributor, "SEC Investigations Expanded to Cayman Islands, the Tax Haven" (The Economic Observer, February 2013)
  • Co-author, "Scars of Sparring Over Audit Access" (Shanghai Daily, January 2013)
  • Co-author, "Controversy Over Auditing May Lead to a Wave of China Delistings in US (審計爭議或掀內企退市潮)" (Oriental Daily News, December 2012)
  • Speaker, "Financial Due Diligence and Anti-bribery Laws" (International Bar Association’s Asia Pacific Mergers and Acquisitions Conference, November 2012)
  • Author, "Resolving SEC-China Impasse is Negotiators’ Job" (China Daily, June 2012)
  • Speaker, "How to Serve Clients in China with Your U.S. Litigation Practice" (American Bar Association, May 2012)
  • Speaker, "Risks and Solutions for Chinese Companies listed in the United States" (Willis, Skadden, and FTI Consulting, November 2011)
  • Speaker, "Understanding Compliance and the SEC's Enforcement Program" (Investoregulation's Conference on SEC Regulation Outside the United States, October 2011)
  • Speaker, "What Bernie Madoff Can Teach Us About Due Diligence and the Psychology of Investing" (STEP, Hong Kong, December 2010)
  • Speaker, "SEC Enforcement Division: Bigger, Stronger, Faster. Why Should the Korean Business Community Care?" (IAKL, September 2010)
  • Speaker, "Coordinating a Response to Allegations of Financial Fraud" (Bar Association of the City of New York, January 2006)
  • Speaker, "Estimating Damages in Securities Litigation" (Law Seminars International, June 2005)

“William McGovern’s ‘regulatory and in-house background [at] the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) give him strong insight into how matters are likely to proceed and resolve.’” - The Legal 500 Asia Pacific