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Smith Pachter McWhorter Announces New Partners in White Collar Practice

Smith Pachter McWhorter Announces New Partners in White Collar Practice

Smith Pachter McWhorter PLC is pleased to announce that veteran white collar specialist Joseph P. Covington has joined the firm as a partner to lead a practice group dedicated to white collar defense, investigations and compliance counseling, augmenting the firm’s existing capabilities in these areas.  Also joining Mr. Covington as partners are seasoned white collar attorneys Iris E. Bennett and Sean J. Hartigan.  The three new partners come to Smith Pachter McWhorter from the White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice in the Washington D.C. office of Jenner & Block, LLP, where Mr. Covington served as co-chair of the White Collar practice. 

Mr. Covington brings deep litigation and counseling experience in the domestic and international marketplaces, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Anti-Kickback Act, the False Claims Act, and other criminal and civil fraud statutes and regulations. Mr. Covington’s FCPA experience began in 1977 as a trial attorney in the Fraud Section at the Department of Justice investigating foreign bribery cases, and continued from 1982-1985 as the head of DOJ’s FCPA prosecution unit, after which Mr. Covington entered private practice.  Mr. Covington has successfully represented hundreds of corporate clients in FCPA internal investigations, government investigations, and compliance matters.  He has counseled clients on post-violation remediation, guided them in establishing and maintaining compliance programs, and advised on third-party due diligence and contracting issues.  Mr. Covington recently was appointed by the World Bank as the independent compliance monitor for a large international company, with a mandate to review and evaluate the company’s global anti-corruption compliance program. 

Together, Mr. Covington, Ms. Bennett and Mr. Hartigan have represented clients in FCPA investigation and compliance matters involving the countries of Albania, Algeria, Angola, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Colombia, Congo, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Egypt, Gabon, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, India, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Romania, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe, among others.

Mr. Covington also has two decades of experience with the False Claims Act and its qui tam provisions.  He has investigated and litigated numerous FCA cases, identifying and implementing strategies to resolve these cases. He has represented corporate and individual clients involving a range of other federal statutes and regulations, including those governing conflicts of interest, procurement integrity, and anti-competitive behavior.  Mr. Covington is also well-versed in the mandatory and voluntary disclosure obligations of government contractors and has represented numerous clients in those matters.  

Mr. Covington has represented companies before government agencies including the Department of Justice Civil and Criminal Divisions, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Special Investigator General for Afghan Reconstruction, and other investigatory bodies as well as suspension and debarment officials. 

Mr. Covington received a B.A. from the University of Virginia in 1968, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1973.  Mr. Covington is AV Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell’s highest peer recognition for ethical standards and legal ability.  In 2012, Mr. Covington was named a DC SuperLawyer in White Collar Defense.  Before his legal career, he served in the United States Army in combat in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart. 

Ms. Bennett has represented numerous Fortune 100 corporate and individual clients in matters relating to potential violations of criminal or civil fraud statutes, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Act, and antitrust laws.   She has also represented companies in matters implicating the federal mandatory and voluntary disclosure rules and brought those matters to successful resolution.  She has conducted internal investigations in cases across the globe and represented companies before the Criminal and Civil Divisions of the Department of Justice as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission in all phases of U.S. government investigations and settlement.  Ms. Bennett’s fluency in Spanish has enabled her to conduct many investigations in that language.  In addition to her deep investigation and defense experience, Ms. Bennett has years of FCPA compliance counseling experience.  She regularly advises corporate clients on their anti-corruption compliance programs and on specific policies, procedures and compliance questions.  She has also designed and led large-scale corporate compliance reviews and audits. 

Ms. Bennett received a B.A. from Harvard College in 1989, summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and a J.D. from New York University in 1999, magna cum laude, Order of the Coif.  She clerked for the Honorable Robert W. Sweet of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, and for the Honorable David S. Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  Ms. Bennett entered private practice after serving as a federal criminal defense lawyer in the District of Columbia Federal Public Defenders’ office.

Mr. Hartigan’s white collar defense and counseling work concentrates on the FCPA in the international compliance context, and on the FCA and other statutes and regulations governing the conduct of government contractors and their employees in the domestic context.  Mr. Hartigan has represented corporate clients in numerous internal and government investigations.  With bilingual skills, he has conducted many investigations in Spanish.  Mr. Hartigan has also led teams in planning and conducting FCPA compliance audits and program reviews, and provides compliance counseling in this area.  Mr. Hartigan has substantial in-house experience with a major government contractor in the areas of contract negotiation, investigation of potential voluntary and mandatory disclosures, and analysis of FAR clauses for flow-down to business partners. Mr. Hartigan graduated with a B.A. from Dartmouth in 1994, and with a Masters in Public Policy and Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Michigan in 2003.  He clerked for the Honorable Jacques L. Wiener, Jr., United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

Together, Mr. Covington, Ms. Bennett, and Mr. Hartigan bring to Smith Pachter McWhorter a depth and breadth of expertise and experience in FCPA, FCA and qui tam litigation, and other criminal and civil fraud matters that will enhance the firm’s ability to provide world class service to its clients in these areas.