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Pete S. Michaels

Member / Co-Chair, Financial Services Practice

PSMichaels@mintz.com

+1.617.348.4861

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Pete focuses his practice on the representation of financial services companies in a wide variety of matters, including litigation, regulatory, and compliance matters of all types. His clients include multinational and regional financial services firms, including banks, broker-dealers, registered investment advisers, mutual fund firms, and insurance companies as well as their employees, directors, and officers.

Pete’s extensive experience with securities disputes includes class actions, state and federal court cases, arbitration, and employment matters. He also represents clients before a wide range of federal, state and self-regulatory agencies: the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the National Futures Association (NFA), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), state securities, banking and insurance regulators, and state attorneys general. In the compliance side of his practice, Pete guides clients through complex compliance issues, including related internal investigations and regulatory scrutiny. Pete has served as an outside compliance consultant on two Massachusetts Securities Division matters.

Before joining Mintz, Pete was co-chair of the Financial Regulatory and Compliance Practice and a partner in the Boston office of an international law firm. He joined that firm after nearly two decades at a Boston securities litigation boutique, where he served as managing partner. He was also an adjunct professor at Boston College Law School for four years teaching Securities Regulation.

Earlier in his career, Pete spent five years as an associate general counsel and vice president of an investment banking firm, and he was an associate at two international law firms. After law school, he served as a law clerk to the late Hon. George C. Edwards Jr. of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

During law school, Pete served as editor-in-chief of the Third World Law Journal.

Experience

Investigations and Enforcement Proceedings

  • Represented broker-dealer in an investigation of  alleged market timing of mutual funds that involved multiple agencies including the Massachusetts Securities Division, the SEC, the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office, the New York Attorney General’s Office, the New York Stock Exchange, the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc., and the DOJ. All matters were closed with no action taken against client.
  • Represented multiple financial institutions and corporate officers in DOJ, SEC and FINRA investigations involving allegations of securities laws violations, including insider trading, market manipulation, money laundering, free-riding, and front-running.
  • Represented one of nation’s largest providers of donor-advised funds in connection with regulatory investigations arising out of donors’ self-directed  Bernie Madoff-related investments. 
  • Advised multiple banks and broker-dealers regarding non-public internal reviews or investigations related to purported wrongdoing by employees, including, among other things, potential: violations of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) policies and procedures; violations of insider trading laws; theft of trade secrets and other intellectual property; embezzlement, and other workplace improprieties. This representation included evaluating whether to terminate employees, making appropriate disclosures to regulators and law enforcement agencies, and providing strategic advice to mitigate the risk of future recurrence.
  • Represented corporate officers and registered supervisory and compliance personnel in multiple contested FINRA Enforcement Division disciplinary hearings alleging fraudulent conduct that concluded with verdicts finding that no fraud in fact occurred.
  • Represented individuals and broker-dealers in multiple state securities regulatory matters involving allegations of securities law violations including fraud, excessive markups, due diligence lapses, unsuitability, mutual fund break-point miscalculations, data breaches, and failure to supervise.

Dispute Resolution

  • Successfully defended Citizens Bank against putative class allegations of aiding and abetting fraud and breach of fiduciary in connection with a $100 million Ponzi scheme. The Western District of NY dismissed the complaint, with prejudice.  The dismissal was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Represented multiple broker-dealers in customer-initiated arbitrations and state and federal court matters.
  • Represented multiple banks and broker-dealers in employment matters in state and federal courts and arbitration, including cases alleging wrongful termination, discrimination, and violations of restrictive employee covenants.
  • Represented multinational  financial services company  in litigation and regulatory matters in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
  • Represented bank in multiple putative class actions across the United States arising out of alleged wrongdoing related to mortgages and related products; violations of multiple consumer protection statutes including the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the Fair Debt Collection Act (FDCA), the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA); and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
  • Represented multiple financial services companies in litigation alleging violations of the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

Regulatory and Compliance

  • Designed and managed Early Dispute Resolution (EDR) programs for multiple banks and broker-dealers, successfully integrating in-house compliance, legal and risk teams with outside counsel to reduce litigation and regulatory risk. Programs included creation of matrices to record and track: risk assessment, pattern detection (product, personnel and geographic), escalation, remediation and compliance gap analysis.
  • Performed regulatory and litigation due diligence in a variety of mergers and acquisition transactions for financial services clients.
  • Designed process to assess Artificial Intelligence (AI) needs for Compliance and Supervision functions of Wealth Management Division of multinational financial institution. Project included analysis of: current state; desired future state; scalability; task applicability; cost ; implementation timeline; and impact on personnel headcount.
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viewpoints

It Gets BIgger: FINRA Joins the SEC In Bringing Reg BI Enforcement Actions

October 21, 2022 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, Alyssa C. Scruggs, Taylor Carter

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High Risk, No Reward: SEC’s First Reg BI Enforcement Action

June 21, 2022 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, Michael Pastore, Alyssa C. Scruggs

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SEC Proposes Regulations to Address “Greenwashing” By Investment Funds

June 13, 2022 | Blog | By Jacob Hupart, Megan Gates, Doug Baumstein, Pete Michaels, Courtney O. Taylor, William F. Weld, Thomas R. Burton, III, Sahir Surmeli

In this article, Mintz attorneys explore the SEC's recently issued proposed regulations on "greenwashing" and how the rules would effect investment advisers and investment companies if implemented.
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Massachusetts Securities Division Lawsuit a Bullseye for Robinhood

April 5, 2022 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, Alyssa C. Scruggs

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On November 18, 2021, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a Notice “to call attention to an upward trend in environmental crimes and associated illicit financial activity.” This focus on environmental crimes is designed to help address FinCEN’s priorities previously announced on June 30, 2021.
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SPACS and Scams: FINRA Announces New Sweep Exams

July 26, 2021 | Blog | By Pete Michaels

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Call it a Comeback: The Likely Return of ESG Investing in ERISA Accounts

June 4, 2021 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, Alyssa C. Scruggs

Environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) investing has experienced quite the regulatory roller coaster in recent years.
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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently released its 2021 Examination Priorities. The SEC indicates it will focus on senior investors and those saving for retirement, with a specific focus on potential conflicts of interests faced by brokers and advisors in giving them financial advice.
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Substantial AML Reforms Enable Regulators to “Follow the Money”

January 21, 2021 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, Cory S. Flashner, Laura E. Martin

On January 1, 2021, Congress enacted the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (the “NDAA”), after overriding a presidential veto. Within the NDAA is the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (the “AMLA”), which introduces substantial reforms to U.S. anti-money laundering (“AML”) and counter-terrorism financing (“CFT”) laws.
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ESG Investing in Retirement Accounts: Down But Not Out

November 30, 2020 | Blog | By Pete Michaels, Alyssa C. Scruggs

Proponents of environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) investing may have good news on the horizon—in particular, good news that could resuscitate ESG investing in retirement accounts following the Department of Labor’s recent blow to the practice.
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News & Press

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Mintz Member and Co-chair of the firm’s Financial Services Practice Pete S. Michaels and Associate Alyssa C. Scruggs co-authored an article published by the American Bar Association’s Litigation Section examining the popularity of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing and an increase in the number of activist shareholder ESG litigations, which, using creative and novel legal theories, are starting to gain traction in the courts.
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In a recent article for The Real Estate Finance Journal, Member and Co-Chair of the firm’s Financial Services Practice, Pete S. Michaels, Member Cory S. Flashner, and Associate Alyssa C. Scruggs, explore the recent increased focus on money-laundering risks in residential real estate transactions, including an overview of regulatory efforts to prevent money laundering.
This feature story highlights the arrival of Members Pete Michaels and David Ward. The article describes their focus on financial services litigation and regulatory matters. The article includes commentary from Pete describing why Mintz was the right fit in terms of size, practice synergy and culture.
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Events & Speaking

May
1
2018

SIFMA C&L Society Boston Regional Seminar

Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association

Boston, MA

Sep
28
2015

SIFMA Compliance and Legal Society Charlotte Regional Seminar

Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association

Charlotte, NC

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Recognition & Awards

  • Included on the Massachusetts Super Lawyers: Securities Litigation List (2006 – 2020)
  • International Finance Law Review, “IFLR1000” Highly Regarded – Financial Services Regulatory (2018-2022)
  • Lexology, "Client Choice Award” – Litigation: Massachusetts (2017)
  • Included on the Super Lawyers Corporate Counsel Edition: Top Attorneys in Securities Litigation List (2009 – 2014)
  • Recipient, ABA Section of Litigation, "Outstanding Service Award" (2003 – 2004)
  • Recipient, ABA, "Outstanding Editor Award" (2002 – 2003)
  • Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent
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Involvement

  • Member, Board of Trustees, Wellspring House
  • Senior contributing editor, Securities Litigation Commentator (2002 – 2015)
  • Arbitrator, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and predecessors (1996 – present)
  • Member, American Bar Association, Securities Litigation Committee, Section of Litigation (1985– present)
  • Member, Advisory Board, Florida Securities Dealers Association (2010 – 2017)
  • Co-editor, Securities Litigation Journal, American Bar Association (1999 – 2011)
  • Co-chair, Broker-Dealer Litigation Subcommittee, American Bar Association (1993 –1998)
  • Member, National Society of Compliance Professionals
  • Member, Compliance and Legal Division, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA)
  • Member, Boston Bar Association
  • Member, District of Columbia Bar Association
  • Member, Florida Bar Association
  • Member, Massachusetts Bar Association
  • Member, New Hampshire Bar Association
  • Member, New York Bar Association
  • Member, Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society
  • Member, Board of Visitors, New England Conservatory of Music (2004 –2018)
  • Member, Board of Trustees, Brookwood School (2009 – 2013)
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Pete S. Michaels

Member / Co-Chair, Financial Services Practice

New York Boston