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Enforcement 2015: Perspectives from Government Agencies

Author(s): Richard D. Owens, Joan E. McKown, Linda Chatman Thomsen
Practice Area: Corporate & Securities, Litigation
Published: Apr 2015
PLI Item #: 58820
CHB Spine #: B2166


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Recipient of the SEC's: Law and Policy Award (2010)

Distinguished Service Award, which is the highest honor the agency bestows on an individual (2004)

Stanley Sporkin Award, which recognizes SEC staff who have made exceptionally tenacious and insightful contributions to the enforcement of the federal securities laws (1994)


Drake University (J.D. with honors 1983; Order of the Coif; Law Review); Vanderbilt University (B.A. 1980)


District of Columbia, Missouri, and Illinois


Law Clerk to Senior Judge J. Smith Henley, U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit (1984-1986)


Served with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (1986-2010) in various positions, including Branch Chief and Assistant Director before being named Chief Counsel of the Division of Enforcement in 1993.

Joan McKown's practice focuses on investigations, enforcement actions, and other proceeding with U.S. and foreign regulators. She also counsels financial institutions, boards, corporations, and individuals on issues related to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as corporate governance, compliance, and ethics matters.

Joan recently represented corporations and corporate officers in SEC investigations involving corporate disclosure, books and records, internal controls, insider trading, and the FCPA.

Prior to joining Jones Day, Joan was the longtime chief counsel of the Division of Enforcement at the SEC. During her 24-year career at the SEC, she played a key role in establishing enforcement policies at the agency and worked closely with the Commission and senior SEC staff. Her substantive experience extends across the full range of Division of Enforcement matters including corporate disclosure, insider trading, investment companies and investment advisors, broker dealers, and the FCPA. She oversaw the drafting of the Enforcement Division Manual and played a significant role in recent organizational changes in the Division.

Joan also served as a key liaison between the Division of Enforcement and other regulatory authorities including the Department of Justice, Commodities Futures Trading Commission, federal banking regulators, and state securities regulators. She led Wells meetings and settlement negotiations of thousands of SEC enforcement matters.

Joan frequently lectures on SEC topics related to Enforcement, Dodd-Frank, financial institutions, disclosure, FCPA, and insider trading. She is a member of the board of trustees of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.


JD, Harvard University, 1988
cum laude

BA, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1984
with Highest Honors

Bar Qualifications

Mr. Owens is qualified to practice before the New York state bar.

Areas of Expertise

Richard Owens is the Chairman of the Litigation Department in the New York office of Latham & Watkins. His practice focuses primarily on representing corporations and individuals in a wide variety of criminal and regulatory investigations and proceedings, as well as conducting internal investigations and advising on compliance matters. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Owens served for more than twelve years as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

From 2002 through 2006, Mr. Owens served as the Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. During his tenure as Chief, Mr. Owens supervised a team of approximately twenty prosecutors devoted to investigating and prosecuting securities fraud, commodities fraud, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Mr. Owens was responsible for coordinating the Office’s criminal prosecutions with parallel civil matters brought by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Reserve Banks, the New York Stock Exchange, the NASD, and state regulators. Mr. Owens directly supervised some of the nation's highest profile prosecutions of corporate fraud and insider trading, including those related to WorldCom, Adelphia Communications, American BankNote, ImClone Systems, Impath, Inc., and Royal Ahold, N.V. Mr. Owens received the Attorney General’s annual Distinguished Service Award in 1996 for the successful prosecution of the Daiwa Bank and again in 2000 for the successful prosecution of Patrick R. Bennett in connection with the then-largest financial fraud in U.S. history. Mr. Owens has tried twelve felony cases, including two of the three largest criminal accounting fraud cases ever prosecuted in the Southern District of New York.

Mr. Owens’ recent matters have included:

  • Representing a global investment bank in connection with a variety of regulatory inquiries and civil actions relating to mortgage-backed securities.
  • Representing a senior executive of AIG Financial Products in connection with SEC and DOJ investigations of AIG’s collapse that were closed without charges.
  • Representing executives from a number of financial institutions in connection with SEC and DOJ investigations of the valuation of complex structured products and derivatives, including mortgage-backed securities, CDOs, and credit default swaps.
  • Representing institutional and individual clients before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission.
  • Conducting an internal investigation for the audit committee of an NYSE-listed company.
  • Advising a Fortune 100 company on FCPA matters.
  • Defending the former Chairman of the American Stock Exchange in connection with enforcement proceedings brought by the Securities Exchange Commission.
  • Advising major investment banks and investment advisors with respect to insider trading compliance issues.
  • Developing 10b5-1 trading plans for individuals and institutions that comply with both U.S. law and similar foreign laws.

Speaking Engagements

Mr. Owens is a frequent speaker on securities law, corporate governance and criminal law matters and has spoken at programs sponsored by a wide variety of groups, including, the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the New York State Bar Association, the Practicing Law Institute, ALI-ABA, and the Institute of Government of the University of North Carolina.

Ms. Thomsen, who was the first woman to serve as the Director of the Division of Enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission, is a partner in Davis Polk’s Litigation Department and practices in the Washington DC office. Her practice concentrates in matters related to the enforcement of the federal securities laws. She has represented clients in SEC enforcement investigations and inquiries, in enforcement matters before other agencies, including the Department of Justice (various U.S. Attorneys Offices) and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, in investigations and inquiries from self-regulatory agencies, including FINRA, and in internal investigations. These matters, which are typically non-public, have covered a broad range of securities related subject matters, including insider trading, foreign corrupt practices, financial reporting, manipulation and regulatory compliance. Her clients have included major financial institutions, regulated entities, public companies and senior executives.

Ms. Thomsen returned to Davis Polk in 2009 after 14 years of public service at the SEC. While there she held a variety of positions and ultimately served as the Director of Enforcement from 2005 through February 2009. During her tenure as the Director of Enforcement, she led the Enron investigation, the auction rate securities settlements, the stock options back dating cases and the expansion of the enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act.

She is a graduate of Smith College (A.B. ’76, Government (High Honors)) and Harvard Law School (J.D. ’79).