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Herbert Smith Freehills boosts US investigations with hire of former assistant attorney and SEC chief John O’Donnell

Herbert Smith Freehills’ (HSF’s) Manhattan office has capitalised on the US revolving door with the hire of John O’Donnell, a former assistant US attorney and branch chief in the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement unit, who joins to boost the top 10 UK firm’s New York investigations division.

O’Donnell joins the firm after spending ten years as an assistant US attorney in the criminal division of the Southern District of New York, five of which were in the securities fraud unit, where he was involved in over 100 investigations ranging from securities fraud to market manipulation and RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act work.)

He has been tasked with helping to expand HSF’s investigations and financial services litigation group and will work closely with the practice’s US head Scott Balber.

HSF opened its New York office in September 2012, a launch largely made on the back of a series of lateral hires from Chadbourne & Parke. The 24-office firm, which has put disputes as the core of its offering in New York, is targeting growth in cross-border investigations as US regulators seek greater co-operation with their overseas counterparts.

The New York office has become an important part of HSF’s international network since opening for business, with an international arbitration team led by Larry Shore, a cross-border litigation team led by Thomas Riley, and an investigations and financial services litigation team led by Balber.

Kyle Wombolt, global head of HSF’s corporate crime and investigations practice, said: ‘The increase in governmental regulation means that businesses frequently find themselves under investigation by authorities in multiple jurisdictions at the same time. With specialist partners in London, New York, Hong Kong, Paris and Australia, Herbert Smith Freehills is one of the few firms that is able to provide clients with joined-up representation in all of the key regulatory centres, and given the global reach of US-based prosecutors and regulators John’s arrival significantly enhances our capability in the crucial New York market.’

Thomas Riley, managing partner of HSF’s New York office, added: ‘John’s experience in the Southern District of New York – one of the US’s leading federal prosecutor’s offices – as well as in a regulatory environment at the Securities and Exchange Commission, will enable us to provide clients with an added dimension in this strategically important and dynamic market.’