Michael Spafford is a partner in the Investigations and White Collar Defense practice of Paul Hastings and is based in the firm's Washington, DC office.
Mr. Spafford's practice focuses on white-collar criminal defense, government investigations, regulatory enforcement, internal investigations, and litigation. He has represented financial institutions, funds and other companies, as well as individual clients in numerous high-profile government investigations and parallel litigation involving alleged violations of the federal securities, commodities and banking laws, price fixing and collusion, fraud and manipulation, tax, accounting, trading offenses, and the FCPA and False Claims Act. Mr. Spafford frequently represents clients before the DOJ, SEC, CFTC, FERC, FTC, and other federal and state government authorities.
Frequently recognized as a leading lawyer in White Collar Defense and Investigations, Mr. Spafford has been ranked by Chambers USA and Legal 500. He has been commended for his work in energy-related matters and recognized by the Best Lawyers in America for his work in derivatives law. Mr. Spafford is a frequent speaker on securities, commodities and derivatives, manipulation and cartel enforcement, and energy issues. Mr. Spafford currently serves as the Co-Vice Chair of the ABA Business Law Section Committee on Derivatives and Futures, as well as the Chair of the ABA Subcommittee on Innovative Digitized Products and Processes, including digital currencies and block chain.
Accolades and Recognitions
Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
Chambers USA, White Collar Crime & Government Investigations (District of Columbia) (2014-2016)
The Legal 500 United States: Litigation, Recommended Lawyer for White-Collar Criminal Defense (2015)
Best Lawyers, Derivatives and Futures (2007-2021), Lawyer of the Year for 2021 - Derivatives and Futures Law - Washington, D.C.
Super Lawyers, Criminal Defense, Washington, DC (2012-2021)
Duke University School of Law, Juris Doctor (1983)
State University of New York at Binghamton, Bachelor of Arts (1980)
Admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and the State of New York, First Judicial Department; U.S. Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit; U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit; U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit; U.S. District Court, District of Columbia; U.S. District Court, District of Maryland; U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York; U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York; U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas; and the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas
Author, "Reforming Securities Fraud Sentencing: An Alternative Proposal to a Loss-Based Approach," ABA White Collar Crime Newsletter, Winter/Spring 2021
Author, "ABA Releases Updated White Paper Regarding Cryptocurrencies and Digital Assets," Paul Hastings Client Alert (January 20, 2021)
Panelist,CFTC Cryptocurrency Regulation: What's Next?, Webinar (November 17, 2020)
Moderator, Recent CFTC Enforcement Developments, District of Columbia Bar Webcast (October 27, 2020)
Author, "Regulators Continue to Emphasize Anti-Money Laundering Compliance," Paul Hastings Client Alert (October 16, 2020)
Author, "ARRC Updates Bilateral Loan Recommended Hardwired Fallback Language and Syndicated Loan Conventions," Paul Hastings Client Alert (October 2, 2020)
Moderator,Navigating COVID-19 Relief Fraud, Webinar (October 1, 2020)
Author, "CFTC Continues Pursuit of Misuse of Material Nonpublic Information Following Settlement with NYMEX," Paul Hastings Client Alert (September 28, 2020)
Moderator, Sanctions and AML in the Digital Age, Paul Hastings Virtual Anti-Money Laundering Summit (September 25, 2020)
Author, "ARRC Encourages Adherence to ISDA IBOR Fallback Protocol," Paul Hastings Client Alert (September 18, 2020)
Author, "Beware of COVID Relief Fraud," Paul Hastings Client Alert (September 17, 2020)
Author, "ARRC Releases SOFR 'In Arrears' Conventions for Syndicated Business Loans," Paul Hastings Client Alert (August 28, 2020)
Author, "ARRC Publishes the SOFR Starter Kit: An Up-to-Date Summary of the Transition Away from USD LIBOR," Paul Hastings Client Alert (August 26, 2020)
Author, "Bloomberg Begins Publishing Fallback Rates for Certain Key IBORs," Paul Hastings Client Alert (July 24, 2020)
Author, "ARRC Announces Further Details of Recommended Spread Adjustments for Cash Products," Paul Hastings Client Alert (July 7, 2020)
Author, "FCA to be Granted Enhanced Powers to Ensure Orderly Wind-down of Libor Contracts," Paul Hastings Client Alert (July 1, 2020)
Author, "ARRC Recommends Best Practices for Completing LIBOR Transition," Paul Hastings Client Alert (June 5, 2020)
Author, "In Search of Restraint: Vorley Wire Fraud Ruling Injects Uncertainty into the Commodities Trading Laws," Futures & Derivatives Law Report, Vol. 40, Issue 5, at 1 (May 2020)
Author, "ARRC Releases Supplemental Consultation on LIBOR-to-SOFR Spread Adjustment Methodology," Paul Hastings Client Alert (May 21, 2020)
Author, "Prosecutorial Deference Versus Due Process: The Federal Power Act and Perpetual Statutes of Limitations," Energy Law Journal, Vol. 41, No. 1, at 71-91 (May 2020)
Author, "Déjà-vu All Over Again: Government Enforcement in Response to Economic Crises," Paul Hastings Client Alert (May 6, 2020)
Speaker,LIBOR Summit 2020, sponsored by the Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness and Greenpoint Financial (April 29, 2020)
Speaker, The Center for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR) Institute,Banking & Financial Services Committee, sponsored webinar on LIBOR transition (April 27, 2020)
Author, "ARRC Proposes New York State Legislation to Facilitate LIBOR-to-SOFR Transition," Paul Hastings Client Alert (April 27, 2020)
Author, "ISDA Announces Preliminary Results of LIBOR Pre-cessation Fallbacks Consultation," Paul Hastings Client Alert (April 24, 2020)
Author, "ARRC Announces Recommended Spread Adjustment Methodology for Cash Products," Paul Hastings Client Alert (April 16, 2020)
Author, "SEC and CFTC Issue Additional Relief to Address Growing Coronavirus Concerns," Paul Hastings Coronavirus Task Force (April 3, 2020)
Author, "Navigating Share Repurchases in Volatile Markets," Paul Hastings Client Alert (March 17, 2020)
Author, "SEC Facilitates Cboe Shift to Electronic Trading," Paul Hastings Coronavirus Task Force (March 15, 2020)
Author, "SEC Releases Additional Guidance to Promote Virtual Annual Meetings and Grants Additional Relief to Investment Advisers and Investment Funds," Paul Hastings Coronavirus Task Force (March 13, 2020)
Author, "Community Spread, Social Distance, and the Economic Gap: More Dramatic Governmental and Institutional Responses to the Coronavirus," Paul Hastings Coronavirus Task Force (March 13, 2020)
Author, "Interpreting the Federal Government's Next Steps Regarding the Coronavirus," Paul Hastings Coronavirus Task Force (March 12, 2020)
Author, "New York Fed Begins Publication of SOFR Averages and a SOFR Index," Paul Hastings Client Alert (March 9, 2020)
Author, "PH COVID-19 Client Alert Series: Regulatory and Corporate Governance Implications," Paul Hastings Client Alert (March 4, 2020)
Author, "CFTC Approves New Proposed Position Limits Rule," Paul Hastings Client Alert (February 24, 2020)
Speaker, Paul Hastings-sponsoredLIBOR Transition Symposium(February 20, 2020)
Author, "ARRC Releases Vendor Survey and Buy-Side Checklist for Transition to SOFR," Paul Hastings Client Alert (February 6, 2020)
Speaker, Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, New York Chapter Event, "Transaction Monitoring Challenges in the Next Decade," Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University (January 30, 2020)
Speaker, Enforcement Developments, ABA Derivatives & Futures Law Committee Winter Meeting (January 2020)
Author, "Vorley Wire Fraud Ruling Inconsistent with Precedent and the Commodity Exchange Act," ABA Derivatives & Futures Law Committee Winter Meeting (January 2020)
Author, "Extradition in Price Fixing Case the Latest Reminder of the Reach of U.S. Antitrust Laws," Paul Hastings Client Alert (January 16, 2020)
Author, "CFTC Chairman Pledges Support for LIBOR-to-SOFR Transition," Paul Hastings Client Alert (December 13, 2019)
Author, "SEC Case Opens Door for Investor Whistleblowers," Law360 (December 3, 2019)
Author, "The SEC Clears the Path for Investors as Potential Whistleblowers: Greater Scrutiny May Be on the Horizon During Regulatory Examinations," Paul Hastings Client Alert (November 21, 2019)
Author, "ARRC's Fifth Set of Recommended Fallback Language: Residential Adjustable-Rate Mortgages," Paul Hastings Client Alert (November 18, 2019)
Author, "New DOJ Task Force to Increase Detection of Collusion in Government Contracting," Paul Hastings Client Alert (November 14, 2019)
Author, "CFTC and SEC Charge Foreign Trading Platform Transacting in Security-Based Swaps and Commodity Futures with U.S. Investors," Paul Hastings Client Alert (November 8, 2019)
Author, "ABA Business Law Section Comments on IOSCO Cryptocurrency Guidance," ABA Business Law Today (November 2019)
Author, "CFTC to Commence New Examination Program Targeting Swap Dealers and CPOs," Paul Hastings Client Alert (November 1, 2019)
Author, "Proposed Amendments to U.S. Prudential Regulators' Margin Rules for Non-Cleared Swaps," Paul Hastings Client Alert (October 25, 2019)
Author, "SEC Charges Bevy of Foreign Traders in Alleged Spoofing Ring," Paul Hastings Client Alert (October 24, 2019)
Author, "Reporting for Duty: CFTC Clamps Down on Swap Reporting and Risk Management," Paul Hastings Client Alert (October 11, 2019)
Author, "ARRC Releases Practical Implementation Checklist for SOFR Adoption," Paul Hastings Client Alert (October 1, 2019)
Author, "Whistleblower Initiatives Clarify CFTC Enforcement Priorities," Law360 (September 26, 2019)
Author, "CFTC Paying for a Company's Dirty Laundry: New Whistleblower Initiatives and Rewards Suggest Increased Enforcement in the Virtual Currency, Foreign Corrupt Practices, Insider Trading, and BSA Spaces," Paul Hastings Client Alert (September 24, 2019)
Author, "SEC Adopts Capital, Margin, and Collateral Segregation Requirements for Security-Based Swaps," Paul Hastings Client Alert (August 8, 2019)
Author, "Landmark ABP Deal Achieves First Amendment of LIBOR Legacy Bond to New Alternative Rate," Paul Hastings Client Alert (June 17, 2019)
Author, "SEC Proposes Action Regarding Cross-Border Application of Certain Security-Based Swap Rules," Paul Hastings Client Alert (June 11, 2019)
Author, "CFTC Reaffirms Focus on Foreign Corrupt Practices," Paul Hastings Client Alert (June 5, 2019)
Author, "ARRC Releases Recommended Fallback Language for Floating Rate Notes and Syndicated Loans," Paul Hastings Client Alert (May 23, 2019)
Author, "The Commodity Futures Trading Commission's Foray into Foreign Bribery Enforcement: What Does It Mean?," Futures Industry Association (FIA) Law & Compliance Division Conference (May 2019)
Author, "ARRC Releases White Paper Regarding SOFR - The New U.S. Dollar LIBOR Alternative," Paul Hastings Client Alert (April 29, 2019)
Author, "ABA Releases White Paper Regarding Cryptocurrencies and Digital Assets," Paul Hastings Client Alert (March 19, 2019)
Author, "A New Enforcement Agency Joins the World of International Corruption Enforcement: CFTC Announces New Initiative Covering Companies Involved in Foreign Corrupt Practices," Paul Hastings Client Alert (March 13, 2019)
Contributing Author, "Digital and Digitized Assets: Federal and State Jurisdictional Issues," American Bar Association Derivatives and Futures Law Committee Innovative Digital Products and Processes Subcommittee Jurisdiction Working Group (March 2019)
Speaker, "Crypto and Block Chain," ABA Derivatives and Futures Law Committee Winter Meeting (January 25, 2019); Author, "Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies: A Cross-Border Conundrum," ABA Derivatives & Futures Law Committee Winter Meeting (January 2019), published in the Journal of Investment Compliance, Vol. 20, No. 3, at 10-19 (2019)
Author, "DRW Decision Presents Significant Interpretation of CFTC Authority," Paul Hastings Client Alert (December 10, 2018)
Author, "The Effects of the Supreme Court's Lucia v. SEC Decision across Administrative Agencies," Infrastructure, Vol. 57, No. 4, at 3 (Summer 2018)
Moderator, "Recent Banking and Securities Enforcement And Litigation," FMA's 2018 Treasury and Capital Markets Legal and Legislative Issues Conference, Washington, DC (October 18-19, 2018)
Speaker, "Private Litigation Workshop," FIA Law and Compliance Conference, Washington, DC (May 2018); Author: "Spoofing, Manipulation, and Scienter in the Context of Post-Dodd-Frank Litigation "
Speaker, "CFTC Enforcement," 32d Annual ABA National Institute on White Collar Crime, San Diego, California (March 2018); Author: "The Interplay Among Spoofing, Manipulation, and Scienter in the Wake of Dodd-Frank"
Conference Co-Chair, ABA Business Law Section, Derivatives & Futures Committee Winter Meeting, Naples, Florida (January 18-20, 2018)
Author, "The Extraterritorial Reach of the Commodity Exchange Act in the Wake of Morrison and Dodd-Frank," Futures & Derivatives Law Report, Vol. 37, Issue 7, at 1 (July 2017)
Conference Co-Chair, ABA Business Law Section, Derivatives & Futures Committee Winter Meeting, Naples, Florida (January 19-21, 2017)
Speaker, Enforcement Action Cases: Spoofing, Disruptive Trading Practices and CFTC's Anti-Evasion Rule, ACI Swaps & Derivative Transactions Conference, Washington, DC (December 1, 2016)
Moderator, Enforcement & Litigation Panel, ABA Derivatives & Futures Committee Winter Meeting, Naples, Florida (January 21, 2016)
Paul Hastings Alert, "CFTC Action Against Kraft May Be An Important Early Test of New Anti-Fraud Authority," Part 2 (December 11, 2015) and Part 1 (April 15, 2015)
Speaker, Preparing & Responding to Government Enforcement Actions, ACI's Energy Trading Compliance Conference, Washington, DC (November 16, 2015)
Law 360 Article, Antitrust Fraud Prosecutors Will Continue to Cooperate, (November 13, 2015), Michael Spafford and Jeremy Evans
Speaker, Understanding Whistleblowing & Retaliation Claims, Japanese Chamber of Commerce International, New York, New York (October 20, 2015)
Speaker, Direct Effect and Causation under FTAIA, Extraterritoriality of Antitrust Law in US and Abroad: A Hot Issue, George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC (September 28, 2015)
Moderator, Enforcement Updates: Understanding the Nature of FERC Enforcement, CFTC's Recent Focus and NFA Enforcement Initiatives, ACI's Energy Trading & Compliance & Regulatory Enforcement Conference, Houston, Texas (July 20, 2015)
Moderator, Trends in Enforcement, Energy Bar Association Annual Meeting, Washington, DC (May 5, 2015)
Speaker, Recent Developments in U.S. Antitrust Investigations and Litigation, Tokyo, Japan (March 12, 2015)
Moderator, Trends in Enforcement & Litigation, ABA Derivatives & Futures Committee Winter Meeting, Naples, Florida (January 22, 2015)
Speaker, Current Issues in Energy Trading: The Regulation of Physical Commodity Traders, Energy Bar Association Annual Meetings, Washington, DC (April 8, 2014)
Speaker, U.S. Regulatory and Enforcement Update: Key Considerations for Asset Managers Under the CFTC and Dodd-Frank Regimes, ABA Webinar, Washington, DC (March 11, 2014)
Speaker, The Use of Scheme Liability in a Post-Janus Climate, ACI's 3rd National Forum on Securities Litigation & Enforcement, Washington, DC (February 27, 2014)
Speaker, Trends in Enforcement and Related Litigation, 2014 ABA Derivatives and Futures Law Committee Winter Meeting, Naples, Florida (February 6, 2014)
Speaker, The CFTC's Global Enforcement Agenda: The Shape of Things to Come Under Dodd-Frank, Webinar, Washington, DC (November 20, 2013)
Speaker, CFTC: The Not So New Kid on the Block That is Making Waves Anew, Eighth Annual National Institute on Securities Fraud, New Orleans, Louisiana (October 24, 2013)
Speaker, Current Civil Litigations and Enforcement Developments Involving Futures and Derivatives, L&C 2013-Futures Industry Association's 35th Annual Law & Compliance Division Conference, Marriott Waterfront, Baltimore, Maryland (May 10, 2013)
A global financial institution in well-publicized, industry-wide cross-border investigations in several countries regarding potential irregularities in the setting of LIBOR interest rates, and related class actions.
Two former Barclays traders in connection with FERC investigation and enforcement action alleging manipulation of the California physical power markets to benefit related financial swaps. Obtained dismissal of Mr. Smith in a precedent-setting decision regarding FERC enforcement authority (FERC v. Barclays Bank PLC, No. 2:13-cv-02093, 2017 WL 4340258 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 29, 2017)), which led to a favorable Barclays settlement in which Ms. Levine paid no money, was not sanctioned, made no admissions, and all claims against her were dismissed.
Individuals in DOJ and CFTC "spoofing" investigations.
FX and ISDA Fix traders in DOJ and CFTC investigations and related class action litigation.
A global container carrier in connection with DOJ criminal antitrust investigation of the container-shipping industry.
A logistics company in connection with DOJ criminal antitrust investigation of fuel supplies to the US military in South Korea.
Special Committee of the Board of Directors of the National Futures Association (NFA) in connection with a review of NFA audits of Peregrine Financial Group.
Leading international camera and medical device maker in connection with global criminal and regulatory investigations of accounting irregularities and its restatement of financial statements, including its overall strategies relating to crises management, corporate governance, and management of criminal and other investigations in several countries.
An audit partner in connection with SEC investigation of allegedly fraudulent financial statements and audit report. Persuaded the SEC not to charge audit partner. Represented several other accounting firms and auditors in various SEC investigations of alleged securities fraud and financial misstatements.
Several traders at an international energy company in connection with the DOJ, CFTC, FTC, and other investigations of alleged manipulation of the Platts benchmarks and related trading of oil, gasoline, fuel oil, and distillates.
Money management firm in connection with a CFTC investigation of block trading of treasury futures options.
Officer of a medical device company in connection with DOJ and FDA investigation of alleged medical device defects and reporting violations.
Defense of the "IFCO" immigration-hiring case, resulting in the DOJ's dismissal of all felony charges against the company's Vice President for New Market Development.
Executives at multiple Japanese manufacturers in connection with DOJ criminal antitrust investigations of the auto-parts industry. Additionally, represented an executive at a European Air Cargo Company in connection with DOJ criminal antitrust investigations of air cargo industry.
Executives at several companies in connection with SEC investigations of restatements of financial statements and alleged securities fraud and insider trading.
Former General Counsel of an accounting firm in connection with federal investigation and prosecution of others concerning tax shelter and avoidance transactions.
A global financial institution in connection with an investigation by FERC Enforcement of alleged market manipulation concerning Lake Erie Loop Flow and allegedly circular trading in several ISO/RTO markets.
Trader at a Wall Street trading firm accused of manipulating PJM electricity markets. After four years of investigation, FERC Office of Enforcement closed the matter without taking action against trader.
Hedge Fund in connection with the CFTC, FERC, and congressional investigations of the failure of Amaranth and its related trading.
Former British Petroleum trader in connection with DOJ and CFTC investigations of alleged manipulation of the propane market.
Executives and employees of Fannie Mae in connection with investigations by the DOJ, SEC, and the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), and internal investigations by Special Committees of the Board of Directors, of allegations relating to financial statements, disclosures, and the use of special structured finance vehicles.
Numerous high-ranking Enron executives, professionals, and traders in connection with government investigations by dozens of government agencies, including the DOJ, SEC, CFTC, FERC, New York County District Attorney, Attorneys General of Connecticut and California, several United States Attorneys (including the offices in San Francisco and Seattle), and various congressional committees, as well as the investigations of the court-appointed examiner and other civil litigation involving Enron's financial collapse.
A Big 4 accounting firm as co-lead trial counsel in two jury trials of actions brought by the State of West Virginia alleging fraud, negligence, conflicts of interest, and breaches of fiduciary duties arising out of the multimillion-dollar failure of Blue Cross Blue Shield of West Virginia. Both trials resulted in defense verdicts.
Accountants, lawyers, and executives in connection with investigations by the DOJ, FDIC, and other banking authorities of alleged fraud and improprieties at several banks and savings and loan institutions in Texas, Virginia, Illinois, Arizona, and California.
Various government officials, and others in connection with investigations by the DOJ and the Office of the Independent Counsel concerning Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster, Americorp, the Department of the Interior, and related matters, as well as investigations by various congressional committees.