Paul R. Berger is a retired partner. He had been a litigation partner in the Washington, D.C. office, where he focused his practice on securities litigation, enforcement and white collar criminal defense matters. Mr. Berger was ranked as a Senior Statesmen in Securities Regulation: Enforcement by Chambers USA (2018), which noted that he “has a wealth of experience handling FCPA investigations.” Chambers USA further described him as “one of the most experienced securities practitioners, with great attention to detail, encyclopedic knowledge of anticorruption practices and a broad knowledge base.” Mr. Berger was ranked as a Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation (2016) and was also recommended by The Legal 500 US (2014).
Prior to joining Debevoise, Mr. Berger was an Associate Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement. At the SEC, Mr. Berger oversaw Commission investigations and enforcement proceedings and served as a principal advisor to the Director of Enforcement and to the Commission on both specific enforcement cases and on enforcement initiatives and policies. Some of his high-profile matters at the SEC include:
- Financial Fraud cases against a major mortgage association resulting in the second-largest penalty ever assessed by the SEC in an accounting fraud case ($350 million); a global telecommunications equipment company; Xerox and six senior executives; KPMG (based on Xerox audits) and five audit partners; AremisSoft and senior management (working with the Department of Justice to successfully freeze assets in the Isle of Man and repatriate $200 million to the U.S.); ACLN and senior executives (freezing over $45 million in four European countries); Huntington Bancshares and senior executives; Take-Two and senior executives; and Livent and senior executives.
- FCPA cases against, among others, Titan (with the Department of Justice, the largest FCPA settlement ever); ABB Ltd., the first Commission case to seek and obtain disgorgement in an illicit payments case; and Syncor.
- Auditor Independence cases against KPMG for the Xerox audits; another Big Four accounting firm for independence violations with respect to PeopleSoft (resulting in successful litigation in which the Chief Administrative Law Judge barred the firm from accepting new audit clients for six months); KPMG for the impairment of the AIM Funds; Moret Ernst & Young; and PKF UK concerning the AremisSoft audits.
- Regulation FD cases against Schering-Plough and its former chairman/CEO; and Flowserve and the company’s CEO and director of investor relations.
- Broker-Dealer cases against Knight Securities, the first fraud case ever filed against a broker-dealer for failure to provide “best execution” to institutional clients; and NationsBank, a sales practice case.
- Insider Trading cases involving the former Chairman and CEO of an investment bank and Deephaven Capital, for trading in PIPEs transactions.
- Executive Compensation cases.
- Other notable cases include the Fast-Trades Internet price manipulation case against law students; the SEC’s first action against a foreign issuer for making false statements concerning merger negotiations; and Solucorp, the first Section 10A case.
Mr. Berger helped establish and chaired the Commission’s Financial Fraud Task Force and played a leading role in the Commission’s recent focus on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement program concerning bribery payments. He was responsible for numerous cases in the areas of financial fraud, foreign payments (bribes), executive compensation, auditor independence, Regulation FD, broker-dealer matters and insider trading.
Mr. Berger is the co-author of numerous articles, including “The SEC Noble Prosecution: Takeaways From The O’Rourke, Jackson And Ruehlen Settlements,” Financial Fraud Law Report (November/December, 2014), “The SEC Noble Prosecution: Takeaways from the O’Rourke, Jackson and Ruehlen Settlements,” "Just Blogs" section of Main Justice (September, 2014), “Heads of SEC Whistleblower Office and FCPA Unit Warn against Interference with Potential Whistleblowers,” Financial Fraud Law Dept (June, 2014), “Anti-Corruption Compliance in 2013: Post-Guidance Trends and Signals for the Future,” Financial Fraud Law Report (February, 2014), “The Government’s $48 Million ATM Withdrawals: Is It Time To Start Sweating Again?,” Financial Fraud Law Report (January, 2014), “A Touch of Solace for Broker-Dealer Compliance Personnel,” Law360 (November, 2013), “Debevoise & Plimpton Discusses SEC’s Guidance on Supervisory Liability for a Broker-Dealer’s Compliance and Legal Personnel,” The Columbia Law School Blue Sky Blog (November, 2013), “Hiring Foreign Officials‘ Relatives: The Justice Department’s Guidance, Some Key Issues, and Potential Internal Controls Solutions to a Recurring FCPA Issue,” Financial Fraud Law Report (November/December, 2013), “The $398 Million Total S.A. Settlement: Are Administrative Orders Now the SEC’s FCPA Resolution of Choice?,” Financial Fraud Law Report (November/December, 2013), “The Vilar Decision: Second Circuit Curtails the Territorial Reach of Criminal Liability under Section 10(b),” Wall Street Lawyer (October, 2013), “China Is Cracking Down on Abuse of Prepaid Cards,” Law360 (April, 2013), “The FCPA In Review – Part I: Release of the Government’s Guidance Caps a Year of Disparate Developments,” Financial Fraud Law Report (April, 2013), “Anti-Corruption Enforcement In China,” Financial Fraud Law Report (February, 2013), “U.S. Enforcement Agencies Issue Extensive New FCPA Guidance,” Westlaw Journal - White-Collar Crime (February, 2013), “Inside the Latest Hong Kong Anti-Bribery Efforts,” Law360 (January, 2013), “Recent Surveys Highlight Anti-Corruption Trends,” Law360 (December, 2012), “Recovering Damages When FCPA Prosecution Misfires,” Part 1 and 2, Law360 (December, 2012), “Conducting Third Party FCPA Diligence In France,” The Global Legal Post (October, 2012), “Blowing The Whistle On FCPA Violations By Domestic Concerns: A District Court Finds No Protection Under Dodd-Frank,” Financial Fraud Law Report (October, 2012), “Hints and Olive Branches In The Morgan Stanley Declinations,” BNA's Corporate Accountability Report (September, 2012), “Second Circuit Signals Support for the SEC’s Use of ‘Neither Admit Nor Deny’ Language in Consent Settlements,” Financial Fraud Law Report (September, 2012), “Duty To Disclose SEC Wells Notices Rejected By Judge,” The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation (July, 2012), “SEC 'Obey-the-Law' Injunctions Held Invalid,” The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation (July, 2012), “The Eleventh Circuit Casts Doubts On 'Obey The Law' Injunctions,” Insights (July, 2012), “SEC 'Obey-The-Law' Injunctions Held Invalid,” FCPA Professor blog (June, 2012), “The Bourke Conviction And Willful Blindness: Did The Second Circuit Get It Right?,” Financial Fraud Law Report (June, 2012) and “Use Of The Travel Act To Prosecute Foreign Commercial Bribery,” Business Crimes Bulletin (April, 2012).
Mr. Berger joined the SEC’s Division of Enforcement in 1992, becoming Assistant Director in 1996 and Associate Director in 2000. Mr. Berger received the SEC’s prestigious Stanley Sporkin Award in 1999, which is given in recognition of outstanding contributions to the Division of Enforcement.
Prior to working at the SEC, Mr. Berger was an associate at Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C. and a staff attorney at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar. He received his B.A. from The American University and J.D. from the Antioch School of Law.