Willkie Farr & Gallagher offices in New York, May 19, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
(Reuters) – Willkie Farr & Gallagher said Tuesday it has hired two former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission officials, one of whom helmed the federal agency's enforcement work on cryptocurrencies.
Kristina Littman, the former chief of the SEC’s crypto assets and cyber unit, and former co-chief of the agency’s asset management unit Adam Aderton will be partners in New York-founded Willkie's litigation practice. They will be based out of the firm's Washington, D.C., office.
Littman joined the SEC in 2010 and was previously a senior adviser to ex-SEC chairman Jay Clayton on issues including digital assets and cybersecurity.
While leading the crypto and cyber unit, Littman’s cases included a $10.4 million settlement last year with cryptocurrency trading platform Poloniex for allegedly failing to register with authorities.
She also helped bring a 2020 charge against action movie star Steven Seagal for “unlawfully touting” a cryptocurrency offering. Seagal agreed to pay $314,000 to settle the case.
Littman also oversaw civil charges against anti-virus software creator John McAfee for allegedly making $23.1 million in undisclosed compensation from recommending seven cryptocurrency offerings on Twitter that were materially false and misleading.
McAfee died by suicide in a Barcelona jail last year after a Spanish court approved his extradition on tax evasion charges.
Law firms have focused increasingly on cryptocurrency clients as the SEC ramps up enforcement in the space.
Littman said she was drawn to Willkie partly because it already has an established crypto practice in place.
Aderton joined the SEC in 2008 and began co-leading the asset management unit in 2019.
He was a member of the commission’s climate and environmental, social and corporate governance task force and helped work on proposed rules aimed at preventing funds from making misleading claims about ESG credentials.
Several SEC officials have recently departed the commission for private practice, including former SEC general counsel Robert Stebbins who rejoined Willkie last year.
Cravath, Swaine & Moore opened a Washington office last month with two former SEC officials, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius earlier this year hired a 13-year SEC veteran.
Littman and Aderton both said it was a natural time for them to depart the commission, as each spent more than a decade working there. They said their exits had nothing to do with current SEC leadership.
Read more:
Former SEC GC Stebbins heads back to Willkie
Wall Street law firm Cravath arrives in D.C. with federal regulator hires
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Jacqueline Thomsen, based in Washington, D.C., covers legal news related to policy, the courts and the legal profession. Follow her on Twitter at @jacq_thomsen and email her at jacqueline.thomsen@thomsonreuters.com.
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