Ken Breen is a partner in the Litigation Department of Paul Hastings and, having recently completed a 10-year term as Global Chair of the Investigations and White Collar Defense practice, is now Head of the New York White Collar Defense practice.
Mr. Breen is a nationally renowned trial lawyer who is regularly recognized as one of the leading white collar criminal defense attorneys in the country. He defends corporations and executives in high-stakes investigations and trials involving a myriad of issues including securities fraud, consumer protection issues, money laundering, and anti-corruption allegations, often under intense media scrutiny. Many of these matters involve law enforcement and regulatory agencies from multiple jurisdictions and cross-border legal issues. He has tried 48 cases to verdict as a defense attorney and federal prosecutor.
In January 2021, as lead counsel, Mr. Breen secured a landmark appellate victory in the Third Circuit in U.S. v. Gibson, et al., where all counts of conviction against David Gibson, the former Chief Financial Officer of Wilmington Trust Corporation, were overturned in a matter of first impression, and the two remanded counts were subsequently dismissed. The American Lawyer deemed it "a stunning reversal of criminal convictions for four executives of Wilmington Trust Corp. in a case dating back to the Great Recession."
In ranking Mr. Breen among the leaders in White Collar & Government Investigations, Chambers USA notes that his clients hold him in "high esteem" and praise his "very shrewd mind," "exceptional legal vision," and "ability to look across the full spectrum of white-collar issues." According to Chambers, he impresses clients as "a very strong advocate," "an extremely clear thinker," "very focused, incredibly direct and also really strategic," "dedicated, tireless and [someone who] can quickly and effectively understand legal issues and the business needs of his clients," and "phenomenal - [….] very good at his craft and […] a great strategist." Clients also describe him as an "extraordinarily effective trial counsel" who "comes with the experience, gravitas and intellect" that lets the other side know that he will be "really prepared to try the matter." In 2019, Mr. Breen's work in U.S. v. Connolly, et al., the first LIBOR manipulation case against a U.S.-based trader, was shortlisted by Global Investigations Review as the Most Important Case of the Year for its impact on future government investigations and led to his recognition by Law360 as a "Legal Lion" following a significant sentencing departure where, though facing 15 years, Matthew Connolly was spared any prison time. Mr. Breen has twice been nominated as "Litigator of the Week" by The American Lawyer for his more than 10 years of work in U.S. v. Gibson, et al., which led to a landmark appellate victory and the subsequent decision by federal prosecutors not to retry the case.
Prior to private practice, Mr. Breen served as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York, where he was Deputy Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Section; prior to that, in the U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division.
Accolades and Recognitions
Chambers USA Litigation: White Collar Crime & Government Investigations (2010-2021)
National Law Journal, Selected to the "Trailblazers" list recognizing the nation's leading attorneys in criminal law (2020)
The Legal 500, Dispute Resolution-Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense: Advice to Corporates
The Legal 500, Dispute Resolution-Corporate Investigations and White-Collar Criminal Defense: Advice to Individuals
The Legal 500, Dispute Resolution-Financial Services Litigation
The American Lawyer, Litigator of the Week Nominee for work as lead trial and appellate counsel securing a landmark appellate victory in U.S. v. Gibson, et al. (Third Circuit) and following the dismissal of the remaining remanded counts (2021)
Law360, Recognized as a "Legal Lion" for securing a sentencing ruling without any period of incarceration in U.S. v. Connolly, et al. (S.D.N.Y.) (2019)
Global Investigations Review (GIR), Recognized as lead trial counsel in U.S. v. Connolly, et al. (S.D.N.Y.), shortlisted by GIR as "Most Important Case of the Year" for its impact on future government investigations (2019)
Mr. Breen received his B.A. in English from Boston College in 1989, and his J.D. from the Boston College School of Law in 1992, where he was Annotation Editor and Staff Writer for the Uniform Commercial Code Reporter Digest.
Mr. Breen is a member of the New York bar and is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second and Third Circuits.
Presenter, "Current Attempts to Define Regulator Roles in Cryptocurrency Enforcement Actions," Celesq/West LegalEd Center, July 2021
Presenter, "PPP Fraud and Investigation Risks for Lenders," Paul Hastings CLE webinar, June 2021
Presenter, "Who's Liable After GameStop: Litigators' Take," Talks on Law, March 2021
"Recent SEC Actions Up the Ante on Cybersecurity Disclosures," Bloomberg Law, co-author with Phara Guberman and Sachin Bansal, September 2021
"Prosecutions of Bitcoin Mixers Raise Crypto Privacy Questions," New York Law Journal, co-author with Phara Guberman and Kenneth Herzinger, May 2021
"Current Attempts to Define Regulator Roles in Cryptocurrency Enforcement Actions," New York Law Journal, co-author with Phara Guberman, March 2021
"Musk's Crypto Tweets Likely Didn't Violate SEC, CFTC Rules," Law360, co-author with Phara Guberman, March 2021
"GameStop Stock Trading Poses 'Manipulation' Challenges for Regulators," Bloomberg Law, co-author with Phara Guberman and Rita Fishman, January 2021
"2020 SEC Risk Alert Provides Guidance for Private Fund Advisers," Journal of Investment Compliance, Vol. 21 Issue 1, co-author with Phara Guberman, December 2020
"'Omnicare' and Opinion Statements Liability in Securities Cases," New York Law Journal, co-author with Phara Guberman and John Nowak, March 2015
"Expect More SEC Scrutiny Of Defense Attorney Conduct," Law360, co-author with Phara Guberman and Thomas Zaccaro, January 2014
Represents David Gibson, former Chief Financial Officer of Wilmington Trust Corporation, in U.S. v. Gibson, et al.as lead counsel at trial and appeal in a matter involving allegations of accounting and securities fraud brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Delaware. Our client's conviction was overturned on all counts in a matter of first impression for the Third Circuit and the remanded counts were dismissed by the District of Delaware. The related SEC litigation was settled favorably. Our victories in this case have been recognized by The American Lawyer.
Represents Matthew Connolly, former manager at Deutsche Bank, in U.S. v. Connolly, et al. as lead counsel at trial and appeal in a matter involving allegations of wire fraud in connection with LIBOR submissions brought by the Department of Justice in the Southern District of New York. Following a split jury verdict, our client was not sentenced to any term of incarceration after a significant sentencing departure. The Second Circuit appeal is pending. Our work in this case was nominated by Global Investigations Review (GIR) as Most Important Case of the Year in 2019 for its impact on future investigations and by Law360 for securing a sentencing ruling without any period of incarceration.
Represents a former senior executive of a financial institution in an investigation by U.S. and global law enforcement authorities of potential criminal conduct involving the alleged theft of over $3.5 billion from the Malaysian government-owned 1MDB investment company.
Represents a hotel owner in an investigation by the Department of Justice Fraud Section involving alleged mortgage fraud in excess of $500 million.
Represents multiple FinTech apps in investigations by the CFPB, NY Department of Financial Services, and other state regulators on issues involving online lending, interest rates categorized as "tips," monthly memberships at lending companies, and other consumer fees.
Represented a Middle Eastern oil and gas company in large-scale and well-publicized FCPA investigations by the SEC and DOJ.
Represented a prominent proprietary trading firm and registered broker-dealer in the SEC v. Galleon Management, LP, et al. and SEC v. Cutillo, et al., insider trading cases in the SDNY.
Represented a major construction company in an EDNY U.S. Attorney's Office investigation of the company's billing practices, which was resolved by a deferred prosecution agreement.
Represented the Swiss banking operations of a major international bank as Independent Examiner in connection with a DOJ Tax Division Program offering Non-Prosecution Agreements for Swiss banks.
Represented a multinational Latin American conglomerate with U.S. operations in connection with an internal audit committee investigation relating to accrual accounting issues and whistleblower allegations. The matter was resolved confidentially.
Represented an international financial services company in an investigation by the CFPB regarding its loan servicing platform and other technology services provided. The investigation was concluded without any charges being brought against our client.
Conducted internal investigations for a leading state university system regarding various issues and issued public reports.
Represented former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik in criminal cases in the Bronx and U.S. District Court for the SDNY.