Michael M. Farhang is a former federal prosecutor and a partner in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He is a member of the White Collar Defense and Investigations and Securities Litigation Practice Groups, and handles general civil and criminal matters in the Litigation Department. He has specialized expertise in federal white collar criminal matters and federal court practice.
Mr. Farhang has represented a variety of corporate and individual clients in white collar criminal, securities, and general business litigation matters. He has substantial experience with internal investigations on behalf of large corporate clients, as well as representations in the context of government investigations and voluntary disclosures. Mr. Farhang has handled representations related to securities fraud, bribery of government officials, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) issues, insider trading, mail and wire fraud, and other criminal and regulatory issues.
In addition, Mr. Farhang has handled a variety of civil litigation matters, including securities and shareholder derivative suits and other commercial disputes. His civil litigation and arbitration experience includes proceedings involving securities fraud, breach of fiduciary duties, trade secrets, accountant liability, unfair trade practices, and contract disputes.
Mr. Farhang has conducted investigative and monitorship work in nine countries, and has expertise in FCPA compliance and investigations. He is a recipient of the prestigious Burton Award for Distinguished Legal Writing, and also speaks Spanish.
Some of his recent white collar criminal and civil engagements have included:
- Successfully defending a public company in civil litigation involving one of the early shareholder derivative suits based on the Say-On-Pay provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. The shareholder action was dismissed with prejudice at the pleading stage;
- Handling an arbitration involving allegations of fraud in connection with a private equity acquisition.
- Handling internal investigations regarding FCPA issues for public-company clients and conducting investigative or compliance monitorship work (including FCPA-related work) in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Egypt, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Singapore.
- Serving as one of the lead lawyers on a Gibson Dunn team assisting the FCPA Counsel to the first non-U.S. compliance monitor in connection with the largest ever FCPA settlement, an engagement that includes work in numerous countries (including in Latin America and Europe) and has involved substantial Spanish-language witness interviews;
- Conducting a significant internal inquiry for a corporate client relating to OFAC sanctions enforcement issues, an inquiry that involved work in the U.S., Europe, and Asia;
- Representing a foreign company in a bribery and bid-rigging investigation overseen by the Criminal and Antitrust Divisions of the U.S. Department of Justice;
- Representing auditors of a Big Four accounting firm in civil and criminal litigation relating to stock option backdating allegations at a public company;
- Serving as one of the lead lawyers on the defense team that obtained the complete dismissal with prejudice of the federal and state securities litigation involving allegations of stock option backdating in In re Computer Sciences Corporation Shareholder Derivative Litigation, CV 06-5288-MRP (C.D.Cal.), and In re Computer Sciences Corporation Options Litigation, Case No. 353316 (L.A. Superior Court), litigation in which Gibson Dunn represented Computer Sciences Corporation, its senior management, and Board of Directors;
- Handling the Ninth Circuit appeal resulting in affirmance of the dismissal in the federal Computer Sciences Corporation securities litigation;
- Representing a number of directors of a public company in subprime-related shareholder derivative litigation in California state court;
- Representing a former public company CEO in an insider trading investigation by the SEC;
- Serving as one of the lead trial attorneys in the federal trial defense of former Fleishman Hillard executive Douglas Dowie, who was accused of defrauding municipal agencies, in United States v. Dowie and Stodder, CR 05-27 (C.D.Cal.). Mr. Farhang also drafted the successful post-conviction motion before the Ninth Circuit in United States v. Dowie and Stodder that obtained a stay of the execution of sentence for Douglas Dowie based on substantial appellate questions;
- Handling representations of other corporate, senior management, and director clients in various state and federal securities suits involving allegations of options backdating; and
- Serving on the Gibson Dunn team representing a high-level U.S. Government official with respect to a federal grand jury investigation.
Mr. Farhang is recognized as a leading lawyer in the field of white collar criminal defense by The Best Lawyers in America® 2011, 2012 and 2013, and was also recognized as a “future star” in the Litigation area in the 2010 through 2012 editions of Institutional Investor’s Benchmark Litigation Guide. He was named a “Best Lawyer” in the field of Criminal Defense in the June 2010 edition of Corporate Counsel Magazine. Mr. Farhang was also named a Southern California Super Lawyer in the field of white collar criminal defense in both the February 2005 and February 2006 editions of Los Angeles Magazine.
Between 1996 and 2003, Mr. Farhang served as a federal prosecutor with the United States Department of Justice. Between 1996 and 1999, he was an Honor Program Attorney at the Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he worked on counterterrorism and death penalty matters, criminal tax matters, and local prosecutions (through the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia). Between 1999 and 2003, Mr. Farhang served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California, where he specialized in white collar fraud prosecutions (including securities fraud, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering) in the Major Fraud section, and handled numerous investigations, trials, evidentiary hearings, and Ninth Circuit appellate matters. He has tried approximately twenty-six cases to conclusion, and has substantial trial experience both in government and private practice. Mr. Farhang was a recipient of both the U.S. Department of Justice Special Achievement Award and the U.S. Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Furthering U.S. Interests Overseas based on work done during his time as a federal prosecutor.
Mr. Farhang also participated in overseas legal assignments for the Department of Justice. During May and June of 2003, he served as part of a 13-member legal team (consisting of federal judges, prosecutors, and public defenders) sent to Iraq to assist the Coalition Provisional Authority with reconstruction of the Iraqi judicial system. Mr. Farhang’s work in Iraq included assessments of the court systems in Baghdad, al-Basrah, al-Nasiriyah, and other urban centers. In February and March of 1999, he was part of a two-person prosecutorial assessment team sent to the West Bank and Gaza to research the criminal justice system in the Palestine Authority.
Education and Community Activities
Mr. Farhang graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College, receiving an A.B. magna cum laude in Government and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations in 1992. He received his Juris Doctor cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was a Developments/Comments Editor on the Harvard International Law Journal. Mr. Farhang is the author of “Terrorism and Military Trials in Egypt: Presidential Decree No. 375 and the Consequences for Judicial Authority,” 35 Harvard International Law Journal 225 (1994). He served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable William J. Rea, U.S. District Judge, Central District of California, in 1995-1996. Mr. Farhang is a member of the California Bar and is admitted to practice in the Central District of California and the Ninth Circuit.
Mr. Farhang is also a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, and is a former member of the Board of Directors and Advisory Board of the national Iranian-American Bar Association. He also serves on the Board of the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice, a legal-aid organization providing housing and family law assistance to low-income communities in East Los Angeles. Mr. Farhang currently serves as one of the two Pro Bono Coordinators for Gibson Dunn’s Los Angeles office, and he is a member of Gibson Dunn’s firmwide Hiring, Pro Bono, Compensation, and Professional Development Committees, as well as its Los Angeles-area Community Affairs Committee.
“How to Deal With Business Corruption Risks in Mexico,” with F. Joseph Warin and Elizabeth Goergen, International Financial Law Review (January 30, 2012)
“Handling Internal Investigations in the Executive Compensation Area,” with James Zelenay, Bureau of National Affairs Pension & Benefits Daily (November 7, 2011)
“Dealing with Tipsters Under Dodd-Frank,” with Susannah Wright, The Recorder (June 27, 2011)
“White Collar Defense Roundtable” (Panelist), California Lawyer (July 2010)
“Corporate Miranda Warnings: Defining Your Role and Avoiding Pitfalls in Internal Company Investigations,” (with Dan Weiss), ABA Litigation, Vol. 36 No. 3 (Spring 2010)
“Section 1519: Why Obstructing an Investigation by Company Counsel May Now Be a Federal Crime,” BNA's White Collar Crime Report, March 13, 2009
“Option Backdating and Independent Directors: An Analysis of Litigation Trends,” BNA Inc.’s Corporate Governance Report, October 6, 2008
“Stock Option Backdating and the Independent Director: An Analysis of Litigation Trends,” BNA’s Executive Compensation Library on the Web, September 2008
“A New Frontier: U.S. v. Reyes and Sentencing Considerations in Stock Option Backdating Cases” (with Debra Wong Yang), ABA-CLE White Collar Crime 2008 (2008 ABA White Collar Crime Conference publication)
“Signs of a Nascent Democracy Appear to Be Emerging in Iraq,” Los Angeles Daily Journal, September 9, 2004
“Reconstructing Justice,” Los Angeles Lawyer, July-August, 2004
“Handover of Power Transfers Risks As Well As Responsibility,” Los Angeles Daily Journal, June 30, 2004
“Will Power-Sharing Accords Be Able to Hold Iraq Together?,” Los Angeles Daily Journal, May 27, 2004
“Jurists Who Will Judge Saddam Must Be Selected With Care,” Los Angeles Daily Journal, April 1, 2004