Miller & Chevalier Expands Criminal Tax Practice with the Addition of Department of Justice Senior Litigation Counsel Kevin M. Downing
Miller & Chevalier Chartered today announced that Kevin M. Downing is joining the firm’s Criminal Tax practice as a Member. He joins the firm from the Department of Justice (DOJ) Tax Division, where he served as a federal prosecutor for 15 years, the last eight in the role of Senior Litigation Counsel. Downing will start at the firm on June 11, 2012.
While at the DOJ, Downing spearheaded some of the most successful criminal tax investigations and prosecutions in history, including the UBS offshore banking and KPMG tax shelter cases. These cases have changed the landscape with regard to tax enforcement and compliance. He investigated, prosecuted and supervised hundreds of criminal tax cases, as well as coordinated the investigations of offshore criminal tax matters with U.S. Attorneys’ offices throughout the country. These cases involved a unique level of cooperation and coordination between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the DOJ, and he worked closely with high-level officials in both agencies. Downing also had extensive dealings with foreign governments, including their banking regulators, justice ministries and tax authorities. His efforts in the UBS case led to the Swiss government negotiating a new tax treaty with the United States, which resulted in unprecedented cooperation by the Swiss government in all civil and criminal U.S. tax investigations.
“The focus of the federal government on criminal tax enforcement is going to continue at an aggressive pace, particularly with regard to offshore transactions and accounts, as well as tax-minimization strategies perceived by the IRS as abusive,” said Patricia Sweeney, Chair of Miller & Chevalier’s Tax Department. “Because of his many years investigating and prosecuting criminal tax cases, Kevin brings extremely valuable experience and critical insight in this increasingly high-stakes area. In addition, his understanding of both civil and criminal enforcement issues unique to international financial institutions will be of great benefit.”
Downing’s tenure in the DOJ overlapped for a period of seven years with Thomas Zehnle, a Member in Miller & Chevalier’s Criminal Tax practice, who served as Chief of the DOJ Tax Division Criminal Enforcement Section (Southern). Between Zehnle and Downing, they bring close to 30 years of DOJ criminal tax enforcement experience and a combined involvement – investigating, prosecuting and supervising – in more than 1,000 cases.
“There is recognition within and outside of the U.S. of the impact of the high-profile enforcement actions undertaken by the IRS and the DOJ,” said Thomas Zehnle. “These efforts have resulted in the collection of billions of dollars in penalties and have induced compliance on the part of the entities held responsible. In addition, with the implementation of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) looming, as well as other initiatives undertaken by the executive and legislative branches to investigate tax fraud and prosecute financial crimes, it is clear that U.S. and international enforcement activity is going to continue to intensify. Kevin’s combination of 15 years of investigating and prosecuting high level tax enforcement cases, deep technical tax experience, and extensive dealings with foreign tax authorities, will provide tremendous value to clients.”
Miller & Chevalier’s Renowned Tax Practice
Miller & Chevalier is widely recognized as a leader in tax matters, with one of the nation’s most impressive records for successfully resolving complex tax issues for clients around the globe. The firm’s lawyers have achieved extraordinary outcomes for clients and have litigated hundreds of tax cases in the United States Tax Court, the United States Court of Federal Claims, the Federal District Courts, the Courts of Appeal, and the United States Supreme Court, including several of the largest tax cases of record.
The IRS and DOJ investigate and prosecute thousands of criminal tax cases every year. These matters involve a unique intersection of complex tax laws and regulations, criminal procedure and constitutional law that is not found in other practice areas. Moreover, with the IRS’s focus on offshore enforcement, international laws, judicial procedures and tax treaties are often implicated in these cases. Miller & Chevalier represents corporations, partnerships and individuals in all facets of such litigation, including through trial. Indeed, it is only through a recognized ability to try criminal tax cases in court that favorable resolutions and settlements are reached in advance.
“I am very pleased to be joining Miller & Chevalier. The firm ‘s reputation as a preeminent tax boutique, its deep and recognized bench in white collar criminal investigations and trials, and its considerable experience in developing and implementing effective compliance programs for global companies, will provide the ideal platform for the areas on which I plan to focus,” said Kevin Downing. “The firm has an established track record of successfully resolving very complex civil and criminal matters, whether the issue requires investigation, negotiation or litigation. I am looking forward to working with this extremely talented group of lawyers.”
About Kevin Downing
Downing has been with the Tax Division of the Department of Justice since 1997, spending six years as a Trial Attorney in the Western Criminal Enforcement Section of the Tax Division, and then as Senior Trial Attorney in the Office of the Assistant Attorney General, Tax Division. The cases that he investigated, prosecuted and supervised involved criminal tax, Bank Secrecy Act violations, money laundering, mail and wire fraud, mortgage fraud, securities fraud, and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The criminal tax cases that he handled involved the review of corporate internal controls and compliance systems and the assessment of the causes of failure and breakdown that result in criminal liability. He was also involved in developing best practice governance and compliance systems for international businesses.
Downing earned the DOJ’s prestigious John Marshall Award, which is the highest and most coveted award for a trial attorney, in 2009. In addition, he received the IRS Commissioner’s Award (2010), the IRS Chief Counsel’s Award (2009), the DOJ Tax Division Outstanding Attorney Award (2003, 2005 and 2007), the DOJ Tax Division Special Commendation Award for the KPMG matter (2009), and the Partnership for Public Service, Service to America Medal for Justice and Law Enforcement (2010).
He has been a featured speaker regarding criminal tax, cross-border banking and compliance with FATCA at diverse high profile U.S. and international conferences. Downing earned a B.S. (Accounting) from St. Joseph’s University; a J.D. cum laude from St. John’s University; and an LL.M. (Taxation) from New York University.