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Michael K. Atkinson

Partner

matkinson@crowell.com
Phone: +1 202.624.2540
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004

Michael K. Atkinson is the former chief watchdog of the nation's 17 intelligence agencies and served in senior Justice Department roles spanning two decades.  He has led dozens of high-profile investigations and offers clients a rare combination of expertise in criminal defense and corporate compliance, emphasizing the areas of national security, cross-border enforcement actions, and cybersecurity. Michael's practice focuses on white collar defense, internal and congressional investigations, and parallel civil and regulatory enforcement proceedings. He also advises on cross-border data transfers, data breaches, and global compliance programs and regulatory strategies for entities considering or already using artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) programs. He is a partner in the firm's Washington, D.C. office, working with the White Collar and Regulatory Enforcement and Investigations groups. Michael is also co-lead of the National Security practice.

Michael was most recently the presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed Inspector General of the Intelligence Community in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  In that role, he led teams of investigators, auditors, and examiners in conducting investigations and compliance reviews related to counterintelligence and cybersecurity matters, procurement fraud, unauthorized disclosures of classified information, intelligence oversight abuses, and other highly sensitive allegations. As the Intelligence Community’s top watchdog, Michael had oversight responsibility for the IC's initial efforts to adopt and implement ethical principles and increased transparency for programs and operations involving AI/ML. Michael was also a member of the U.S. delegations to the annual reviews on the functioning of transatlantic data transfers under the U.S./European Union Privacy Shield framework. He also served as the Chair of the Intelligence Community Inspectors General Forum.

Prior to his Inspector General role, he tried, prosecuted, and supervised high-profile criminal cases at the United States Department of Justice. He was most recently the Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division, where he oversaw the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and the Foreign Investment Review staff. Michael handled sensitive investigative matters involving national security, cybersecurity, export controls and sanctions, economic espionage, and the mishandling of classified information. He also oversaw the Justice Department’s participation in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) through its review of foreign acquisitions of domestic companies and efforts to prohibit or modify such transactions on national security grounds.

He also served as the Acting Chief and the Deputy Chief in the Fraud and Public Corruption Section of the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Columbia. At the U.S. Attorney’s Office and, earlier, as a Trial Attorney with the United States Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, he oversaw and was the lead prosecutor on several significant white-collar matters involving procurement fraud, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), public corruption, export controls and sanctions, securities fraud, cyber fraud, and money laundering, among other offenses.

Before his 18 years of government service, he was a litigation partner at a global law firm where he focused on solving complex civil and white collar criminal legal problems for a wide range of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, corporate executives, and high-profile public officials.

Representative Firm Experience

  • Representation of global professional services company concerning compliance and regulatory strategy around testing and implementing AI/ML tools in support of police and law enforcement entities.
  • Representation of U.S. government contractors before the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General. 
  • Representation of entity in congressional investigation concerning the coronavirus crisis and related issues. 
  • Representation of multi-national corporation concerning privacy and civil liberties issues in cross-border data transfer of computer information.

Representative Government Experience

  • Led the investigation of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint that resulted ultimately in the first impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump
  • Obtained the jury trial convictions of the former Chief Executive Officer and the former Vice President of Sales for Caribbean Operations for violating the FCPA and obstruction of justice.
  • Lead prosecutor in the largest domestic bribery and bid steering scheme in the history of federal contracting, which required oversight of law enforcement agents from multiple federal agencies as part of an investigation that spanned the United States, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea.
  • Obtained the convictions of a former Member of Congress and his spouse in connection with defrauding the Congressman’s campaign committee and tax evasion.
  • Supervised the prosecution of the largest publicly-traded telecommunications manufacturer in China, and the fourth largest telecommunications manufacturer in the world, for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economics Powers Act (IEEPA), which resulted in a guilty plea for illegally shipping U.S.-origin items to Iran, obstructing justice, and making a material false statement, and the largest criminal fine ever obtained by the Department of Justice in an IEEPA case.
  • Secured a non-prosecution agreement with a global software company to strengthen security protocols to increase information security by regulating remote access to U.S. company networks and transfers of sensitive data.
  • Supervised the prosecution of two multi-national financial institutions, which agreed to pay, collectively, over $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and regulatory charges that the institutions violated economic sanctions targeting Iran and Sudan
  • Obtained agreements with subsidiaries of a financial services corporation and an insurance conglomerate arising from a securities fraud investigation related to the improper use of special purpose entities, which resulted in the payment of over $245 million in monetary penalties and restitution.
  • Obtained the convictions of the Chief Executive Officer and two board members of a publicly traded company based in China for a tax conspiracy, which prosecution also included obtaining the convictions of three attorneys for obstruction of justice and false statements arising from a securities fraud investigation. 
  • Obtained the convictions of the former owner of the District of Columbia’s largest government contracting firm, as well as three candidates for and one member of the District of Columbia Council, for federal and District of Columbia campaign finance violations. 
  • Prosecuted a then-sitting United States Congressman for conspiracy, bribery, honest services fraud, FCPA, RICO, money laundering, and obstruction of justice, which prosecution also led to the conviction of a Chief Executive Officer for bribery of the Congressman and the conviction of a former Congressional staff member for aiding and abetting bribery and conspiring to bribe the Congressman.
  • Supervised the investigation and prosecution of the largest health care takedown in the history of the District of Columbia, arresting and prosecuting 20 business owners, executives, and employees for their roles in over $80 million in Medicaid fraud among home health care agencies and nurse staffing agencies.

Education

  • Syracuse University, B.A. (1986)
  • Cornell Law School, J.D. (1991)

Affiliations

Admitted to practice: District of Columbia; before the Supreme Court of the United States, United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, United States District Court, District of Columbia and District of Maryland; District of Columbia Court of Appeals; Maryland Court of Appeals; Maryland Court of Special Appeals

Awards

  • Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service
  • United States Attorney’s Award for Exceptional Performance by an AUSA
  • Assistant Attorney General’s Award for National Security
  • Executive Office for United States Attorneys’ Director’s Award for Superior Performance by an AUSA
  • Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, which recognizes individuals in any area of endeavor who, with integrity and at some personal risk, take a public stance to advance truth and justice, and who challenge prevailing conditions in pursuit of the common good

View More

A Babysitter And A Band-Aid Wrapper: Inside the Submarine Spy Case The New York Times (October 11, 2021)
Media Mentions
"Want To Develop A Risk-Management Framework For AI? Treat It Like A Human.," VentureBeat (September 19, 2021). Authors: Michael K. Atkinson, and Rukiya Mohamed.
Publication
In Pursuit Of Trump Ally, Feds Rely On 'Espionage Lite' Law Law360 (August 10, 2021)
Media Mentions
The Case Against Tom Barrack Could Draw Classified Material Into Court CNBC (July 29, 2021)
Media Mentions
Trump Ally Tom Barrack’s Criminal Case Isn’t Really About Lobbying – It’s About National Security CNBC (July 26, 2021)
Media Mentions
‘Karma works’: Donald Trump Ally Tom Barrack Fights Criminal Charges Over UAE Ties Financial Times (July 26, 2021)
Media Mentions
POLITICO Influence: How The Tom Barrack Indictment Is Playing On K Street POLITICO (July 23, 2021)
Media Mentions
"Are you Prepared for a Ransomware Attack? Preparing for Threats and Managing the Crisis" (July 21, 2021). Presenters: Michael K. Atkinson, Caroline E. Brown, Laura Foggan, Kristin J. Madigan, CIPP/US, Jeffrey L. Poston, Evan D. Wolff.
Speech/Presentation
"Don’t be that Victim: The Critical Need for Ransomware Response Plans," Privacy Law Alert (June 23, 2021). Contacts: Michael K. Atkinson, Caroline E. Brown, Laura Foggan, Carlton Greene, Michelle J. Linderman, Jeffrey L. Poston, Paul M. Rosen, David (Dj) Wolff, Evan D. Wolff, Maida Oringher Lerner, Matthew B. Welling
Client Alert / Newsletter
"A Ransomware Attack Primer: What You Need to Know and What Crowell Can Do to Help," Privacy Law Alert (June 17, 2021). Contacts: Michael K. Atkinson, Caroline E. Brown, Laura Foggan, Carlton Greene, Michelle J. Linderman, Jeffrey L. Poston, Paul M. Rosen, David (Dj) Wolff, Evan D. Wolff, Maida Oringher Lerner, Matthew B. Welling
Client Alert / Newsletter

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Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with offices in the United States, Europe, MENA, and Asia that represents clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory and policy, and transactional and corporate matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation and government-facing matters, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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