Michael J. Osnato, Jr., former Chief of the Complex Financial Instruments Unit of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division, is a Litigation Partner and member of the Firm’s Government and Internal Investigations Practice. He focuses on high-stakes regulatory and criminal matters, government investigations, sensitive whistleblower complaints and SEC examination and compliance counselling.
During his tenure at the SEC, Mike led a specialized, nationwide unit of 45 attorneys and former Wall Street professionals in the SEC’s investigations related to complex financial products and practices involving sophisticated market participants. Under Mike’s leadership, the CFI Unit was charged with developing innovative and streamlined methods for monitoring and investigating products and risks that posed a large-scale risk to the securities markets. He supervised investigations and litigations involving the structuring, sale, trading and valuation of derivatives, asset-backed securities and other complex securities by banks, asset managers and public companies, including:
• Global financial institution in violations of SEC Customer Protection Rule culminating in historic $415 million penalty
• Fraud and internal controls cases against traders and global financial institution arising from six billion dollar derivatives trading loss
• SEC’s first fraud cases against bank issuers of complex derivative products
• First SEC fraud charges against major credit rating agency
• Disclosure and controls violations by financial institutions arising from multibillion-dollar regulatory capital overstatements
• Fraud case against senior-most investment bankers charged for financial crisis-related conduct
At the SEC, Mike was a member of various national leadership Committees, including the Enforcement Division’s Cooperation Committee, which oversees the SEC’s Cooperation Program for entities and individuals subject to SEC investigation. During his tenure on the Cooperation Committee, Mike played a leadership role in developing innovative uses of the Enforcement Division’s Cooperation Program and formulating national policy relevant to the resolution of high-stakes matters. Mike has extensive experience in evaluating the strength of corporate compliance and controls programs, the adequacy and value of corporate and individual cooperation in SEC matters, and has played a lead role in several of the SEC's most prominent settlements involving admissions of wrongdoing.
Throughout his tenure at the SEC, Mike worked in close partnership with multiple domestic and international law enforcement agencies, including the Department of Justice, FBI, CFTC, Federal Reserve, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, the New York Attorney General's Office, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority.
Mike first joined the SEC’s Enforcement Division in September of 2008 as a staff attorney. Prior to his promotion to Chief of the CFI Unit, he served as Assistant Regional Director in the SEC’s New York Regional Office from 2010 through January 2014, where he supervised a number of prominent financial crisis, accounting fraud and investment adviser investigations.
Mike frequently speaks at conferences on subjects relating to securities enforcement, regulatory developments and private fund enforcement. He also serves as Visiting Lecturer at a prominent European university on the SEC's regulatory and enforcement processes.
Prior to his tenure at the SEC, Mike was an attorney at two prominent international law firms. He received his J.D. with Honors in 1997 from Fordham Law School, where he was a member of the Law Review, and his B.A. with Honors from Williams College in 1994, where he was a Distinguished Scholar.