David A. O’Neil was appointed Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division on March 21, 2014.
He replaced Mythili Raman. She held the job for only a year. But during her tenure the DOJ charged more than a dozen individuals for FCPA-related violations and secured three of the ten biggest corporate FCPA resolutions ever. Will O’Neil keep up the FCPA enforcement pressure?
He’s familiar with the challenges of gathering evidence abroad. O’Neil started with the DOJ in 2006 as a prosecutor in the Southern District of New York. His specialty there, according to his DOJ bio, was international investigations and fraud on the government and financial institutions.
From 2009 to 2010, O’Neil served as Associate Deputy Attorney General. He concentrated on national security matters.
“He helped to develop policies on questioning suspects in cross-border investigations and oversaw the department’s national security investigations and prosecutions,” the DOJ said.
O’Neil then moved up to become Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General — the second-in-command at the DOJ who supervises all of the agency’s criminal and civil litigation. In that role, he “focused on criminal and white collar matters, as well as sensitive national security issues,” the DOJ said.
There’s a lot of policy overlap between national security and FCPA enforcement. And developing both kinds of cases needs some of the same skills, technical know-how, and patience. The DOJ and FBI have to work with overseas counterparts to gather evidence, talk to witnesses, and coordinate arrests and extraditions — without stepping on political toes or violating restrictive privacy laws.
O’Neil knows how all that happens. But he may be a short-timer in the job.
In early March, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Leslie Caldwell to head the DOJ Criminal Division. She’s now co-chair of the corporate investigations and white-collar practice at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Her nomination will head to the full Senate. So far, no date for a final confirmation vote has been set.
O’Neil is now in charge of nearly 600 lawyers at the DOJ who prosecute federal criminal cases across the country. And he’s working with the 93 United States Attorneys who run the prosecutions in their districts.
After a BA at Princeton and a JD at Harvard, O’Neil clerked for Robert D. Sack of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and then for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the Supreme Court.
Before joining the DOJ, he worked at WilmerHale — specializing in internal investigations and white-collar criminal defense work.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.