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LFM Attorneys, Daren Firestone and Kimberly Wehle, Explain How New AML Whistleblower Law May Be Key Tool To Enforce Russia Sanctions

On Dec. 29, 2022, President Joe Biden signed into law the Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower Improvement Act as part of a 1,600-page, $1.7 trillion omnibus appropriations bill. The Act for the first time authorizes monetary rewards for tips leading to government penalties for violations of certain economic sanctions relating to drug trafficking, terrorism, and other threats to national security, foreign policy or the U.S. economy — including various types of sanctions imposed by the U.S. government on Russian oligarchs.

In an analysis for Law360, LFM attorneys, Daren Firestone and Kimberly Wehle, explain the legal context and scope of this new law administered by the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

FinCEN’s whistleblower program will also require robust enforcement.

Whistleblower tips have little value unless pursued by agency investigators and attorneys — presumably derived from some combination of FinCEN’s Enforcement and Compliance Division; OFAC’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement; the FBI’s Money Laundering, Forfeiture and Bank Fraud Unit; and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.

It remains to be seen how aggressively these agencies will pursue whistleblower tips submitted under the Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower Improvement Act.

Nonetheless, it is significant for the rule of law that new financial incentives are now in place for whistleblowers to uncover Russian oligarchs and other sanctioned individuals who are illegally hiding assets.

The Anti-Money Laundering Whistleblower Improvement Act could lead to exposures of funds held in nominee accounts, identification of cryptocurrency held in anonymous wallets, and revelations regarding the beneficial ownership of mega-yachts, among countless other areas now open to whistleblower claims.

The full impact of the new law on the U.S. government’s efforts to address financial crime writ large has yet to be seen.

Read the full opinion, “New AML Law May Be Key Tool To Enforce Russia Sanctions,” on Law360 (account required), or download a PDF here.

LFM Partner Monique T. Abrishami Explains Significance of Recent Garland Memo

After Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memorandum instructing DOJ prosecutors to shift their focus in charging decisions, Levy Firestone Muse partner Monique T. Abrishami authored an opinion for Law360 discussing the memo’s impact on white collar prosecution:

Rebalancing the scales, the Dec. 16 memorandum encourages prosecutors to allow their sense of justice to have a greater effect on charging decisions. While the memorandum’s specific instructions will likely have a significant effect on drug and violent crime prosecution — in particular, through the notable edict to charge fewer offenses with mandatory minimums — its practical impact on white collar prosecution will likely stem more from the shift in tone it represents. Its focus on overall fairness over one-size-fits-all severity is a striking change from the prior approach, giving attorney general-level support and legitimacy to prioritizing just outcomes over conviction stats.

Read the full opinion, “For White Collar Practitioners, Tone Of Garland Memo Is Key,” on Law360 (account required), or download a PDF here.

Kimberly L. Wehle Joins Levy Firestone Muse as Counsel

Law professor specializes in civil procedure, election law, the American political process, risks to U.S. democracy, and the modern U.S. Supreme Court

January 17, 2023 (Washington, DC) – Boutique D.C. law firm Levy Firestone Muse is pleased to announce that civil procedure, constitutional law, and democracy expert Kimberly L. Wehle has joined the firm as Counsel. She is a tenured law professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law and a legal contributor for ABC News. Professor Wehle writes for The Atlantic and Politico and speaks widely on American law, with particular emphasis on presidential power, voting, the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Constitution. She served as a legal analyst for CBS News during the first impeachment proceedings of former President Donald Trump, appearing on Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan.

“One of the country’s foremost experts on civil procedure, Kim’s appellate and motions practice experience will be an instant asset to the firm and its clients,” said managing partner Joshua A. Levy. “Her expertise as a brief writer, communicator and thinker creates a unique combination of talents. It’s a plum for the firm and our clients to be teaming up with such platinum talent.”

A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Professor Wehle was an assistant United States Attorney in Washington, D.C., and associate independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation under Kenneth W. Starr. She is also an advisor to Protect Democracy and The Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement in the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of three books on civic literacy: How to Read the Constitution—and WhyWhat You Need to Know About Voting—and Why, and How to Think Like a Lawyer—and Why, all published with Harper Collins. Her forthcoming book with Woodhall Press is entitled, How the Pardon Power Works and Why

Kim Wehle is thrilled to be joining Levy Firestone Muse, whose attorneys are renowned for navigating political and media storms and have participated in the Watergate, Iran Contra, Anita Hill, Filegate, Enron, Hurricane Katrina, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the January 6 investigations. Her periodic newsletter, available at, breaks down major legal news for lawyers and lay readers. Twitter and IG handles: @kimwehle. 

About Levy Firestone Muse

Levy Firestone Muse is a Washington, DC-based boutique litigation firm specializing in white-collar criminal defense, investigations, complex civil matters, malpractice/personal injury, healthcare fraud, and whistleblower representation. Our attorneys have tried and won “bet-the-company” litigation, and amassed decades of experience defending and prosecuting commercial litigation throughout the United States.

Media queries please contact Annette Larkin at 703.772.6427 or [email protected]

LFM Partner Robert F. Muse Named to Washingtonian’s Top Lawyers Hall of Fame

After many appearances on Washingtonian’s annual Top Lawyers list, Levy Firestone Muse partner Robert F. Muse has been named to the publication’s Top Lawyers Hall of Fame. Described as among the “very best in Washington,” Robert F. Muse received this honor because, year after year, surveyed local attorneys named him as someone they would trust for legal help and advice. As the Washingtonian noted, “the ones who appear year after year are, in essence, the best of the best among their peers”—rendering the Hall of Fame a “a sort of ‘lifetime achievement’ award for area attorneys.”

LFM Partner Daren H. Firestone explains legal implications of FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search

After news of the FBI’s search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, CNN and Law360 asked Levy Firestone Muse partner Daren Firestone about the implications:

For investigators to escalate their probe with a search, “there would have to be something serious enough that would merit more than a slap on the wrist,” Firestone, now a partner at the DC-based firm Levy Firestone Muse, said.

Firestone also said that whatever Garland’s plans, he would not have signed off on the search unless he had reason to believe that a piece of evidence at Mar-a-Lago could demonstrate not just that Trump held onto government documents, but that he did so with some nefarious intent.

Levy Firestone Muse Files New Lawsuit Over U.S. Park Police Officers Brutally Beating Protester in Lafayette Square in June 2020

Levy Firestone Muse Partner, Daren Firestone, and Associate, Scott Brooks, filed a federal lawsuit today accusing U.S. Park Police officers of brutally beating their client, Elizabeth Carmer, during the Trump Administration’s violent and unprovoked attacks on civil rights protesters in Lafayette Square on June 1, 2020.

The lawsuit is the latest in a series of civil actions stemming from federal and local law enforcement’s violent removal of demonstrators from Lafayette Square, where members of the public had been gathering for days to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.

Ms. Carmer, 58, was kneeling with her hands in the air when Park Police officers rushed at her, knocked her to the ground, and senselessly bludgeoned her with batons. She suffered severe bruising and permanent nerve damage in her right thigh.

“They came at me with so much force. It was truly shocking,” said Ms. Carmer. “I’m not someone who attends a lot of protests. But the news that summer was so heartbreaking. I just wanted to speak up, in my own small way, and say, ‘This is not right.’ I’m still living with the consequences.”

The assault happened on the fourth day of civil rights protests in Lafayette Square. Ms. Carmer, who had not attended any of the previous days’ demonstrations, had been in the square for an hour or less when the officers beat her.

Later that day, former President Trump posed for photographs holding a bible in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church.

“The attack on peaceful demonstrators in Lafayette Square was an assault on the bedrock of our democracy: the right to free speech. The officers and the person who ordered the assault on the demonstrators must be held accountable,” said Daren Firestone, of Levy Firestone Muse LLP, who is representing Ms. Carmer in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, accuses U.S. Park Police officers and Major Mark Adamchik, the incident commander, of violating Ms. Carmer’s rights under the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. It also seeks damages for assault and battery under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Read the complaint

See the video that captured part of the incident

Ms. Carmer kneeling at the northern edge of Lafayette Park, just seconds before the attack (approximately 6:38 p.m.) — courtesy Darren Haynes
Still image from video that captured part of the attack on Plaintiff (approximately 6:38 p.m.) — courtesy Darren Haynes
Ms. Carmer’s right thigh, three days after the attack

Sanctioned Russian oligarchs dropped their suit against Levy Firestone Muse clients Fusion GPS and Glenn Simpson

The sanctioned Russian oligarchs and owners of Russia’s Alfa Bank, Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven, and German Khan, have dropped the defamation lawsuit they filed against Levy Firestone Muse LLP clients Fusion GPS and its founder Glenn Simpson in 2017. Levy Firestone Muse attorneys Joshua A. Levy, Rachel Clattenburg, E. Andrew Sharp, and Kevin P. Crenny worked on the case.

Levy Firestone Muse partner Joshua A. Levy commented on the businessmens’ close ties to the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin in a statement, noting that “the oligarch owners of Alfa Bank took issue with the observation that they were close to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and amassed incredible wealth as a result of that association. Official statements explaining recent economic sanctions imposed on the plaintiffs by the European Union and the UK, we believe, confirmed that truth.”

“We are pleased that the plaintiffs decided to abandon their case after 4.5 years of needless litigation. As we wrote in our recent motion to dismiss: ‘It is now clear as can be that Plaintiffs have been using this case to defend reputations that they do not have,’” Levy wrote.

Read the full story, “Russian oligarchs drop suit against investigative firm Fusion GPS,” at Politico.

LFM Partner Daren H. Firestone analyzes Trump’s alleged mishandling of ‘top secret’ documents

Upon reports that former President Donald Trump may have broken the law by taking home documents marked “top secret” in the 15 boxes he removed to his private Mar-a-Lago home, Levy Firestone Muse partner Daren H. Firestone authored an opinion for Law360 to discuss the likelihood of prosecution under the Espionage Act:

We don’t know why Trump took the documents to Mar-a-Lago. Was it a mistake? Were the documents mementos of his time in office? If the classified Mar-a-Lago documents turn out to implicate Trump in a crime — related to Jan. 6 or otherwise — and there are multiple reliable witnesses to testify that Trump intended to hide them from investigations into his criminality, then a prosecution may be warranted, and conviction may be sufficiently likely to overcome political and legal liabilities.

Read the full opinion, “DOJ Unlikely To Charge Trump For Taking Top Secret Docs,” on Law360 (account required) or download a PDF here.

LFM Partner Daren H. Firestone offers thoughts on NYAG’s criminal investigation of the Trump Organization

When the probe by the New York attorney general’s office into whether President Donald Trump’s businesses inflated the asset values of a New York estate became a criminal investigation on Wednesday, Levy Firestone Muse partner Daren H. Firestone offered his thoughts on the potential pitfalls and necessary precautions of the new path forward to Law360:

Daren Firestone of Levy Firestone Muse LLP, a former trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice’s tax division, told Law360 that cooperation between Vance and James’ offices could signal the civil investigation turned up evidence of criminal fraud. The choice between civil and criminal tax enforcement turns on the strength of the evidence and the mindset of the target, he said, noting a criminal case requires proof the defendant acted willfully.

“The chances President Trump might end up indicted just went up,” Firestone said.

Read the full article, “NY Attorney General’s Probe of Trump Goes Criminal,” on Law360.

Rwanda releases LFM investigation report on the Role of the French Government in the Genocide against the Tutsi, in Rwanda

KIGALI, RWANDA—The Government of Rwanda earlier today released “the Muse Report,” the culmination of Levy Firestone Muse LLP’s investigation into the role of the French government in connection with the Genocide against the Tutsi. The report is entitled, “A Foreseeable Genocide,” and concludes a four-year investigation led by LFM partner, Robert F. Muse and conducted by a team of lawyers, investigators and other professionals on behalf of the Rwandan government.

Levy Firestone Muse LLP interviewed over 250 people and gathered over 100,000 documents from Africa, Europe and North America. LFM partnered with three Rwandan law firms, CERTA Law, Trust Chambers Law, and MRB Attorneys.

Read the Muse Report

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