The Justice Department's top foreign-bribery prosecutor, Mark Mendelsohn, is leaving the department to join Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in Washington.
Mendelsohn's jump to private practice was expected and has been talked about for months as the Justice Department's Fraud Section has undergone personnel changes. His last day at Justice will be Friday. The Wall Street Journal first reported the move here.
Back in November, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Criminal Division praised Mendelsohn, a deputy chief in the Fraud Section who oversees Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases, during a speech at the 22nd Annual National Forum on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “Mark has been an exceptional public servant and a visionary steward of the FCPA program,” Breuer said.
FCPA enforcement has ramped up significantly in the past couple of years, especially when it comes to the prosecution of individuals. Breuer has called 2009 the most "dynamic" year of FCPA enforcement ever with a record number of trials, individuals charged and corporate fines.
Mendelsohn, a federal prosecutor for 12 years, is a former senior counsel in the DOJ Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. Prior to joining the computer crime section, Mendelsohn was an assistant U.S. attorney in the New York, where he specialized in the prosecution of white collar crime, including FCPA cases. He clerked for Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, who has been nominated for a federal appeals court slot.
Chuck Duross, an assistant chief in the Fraud Section since October 2008, has been named acting deputy chief for FCPA enforcement. The Justice Department has posted a vacancy announcement seeking a permanent replacement.
Duross joined the Fraud Section in 2006 and has focused on FCPA enforcement. He was the Fraud Section trial attorney on the prosecution of former Rep. William Jefferson, who was convicted last August in a bribery case in Alexandria, Va.
As an assistant U.S. attorney in Miami, Duross investigated and prosecuted mail fraud, money laundering and securities fraud. He became a deputy chief in the Major Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
Alexandra Wrage, an expert in corporate compliance with FCPA, called Mendelsohn “the face” of FCPA in the private sector. (Wrage and Mendelsohn are participating on a FCPA-themed panel later this week at an American Bar Association international law section meeting in New York.)
“There will be extraordinary interest as the baton is passed and considerable uncertainty if it takes some time to fill the position,” said Wrage, president of TRACE International, a nonprofit association that works with companies to bolster FCPA compliance. “During the interim, companies will have to weigh the benefits of wading into this situation with a voluntary disclosure against waiting to see the tone set by Mark's successor.”
Mendelsohn leaves as two other Fraud Section deputy chiefs, Kirk Ogrosky and Steve Linick, pursue other career moves. Ogrosky, who supervised health care fraud prosecution, recently joined Arnold & Porter as a partner in the Washington office, and Linick has been nominated to be the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency.