Philip Moustakis is counsel in the Litigation group. Philip advises companies and individuals on SEC enforcement matters, other regulatory and criminal enforcement investigations, internal investigations, and cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
Philip has extensive experience with securities enforcement matters. For more than a decade prior to entering private practice, he served as senior counsel in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, investigating and prosecuting complex matters involving violations of the federal securities laws. Prior to the SEC, Philip served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Investor Protection Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s Office, investigating and prosecuting violations of the Martin Act and other investor and consumer protection laws.
As a member of the SEC’s Asset Management Unit, Philip gained broad experience with matters involving investment advisers to private funds and mutual fund complexes. He served as co-lead attorney on the investigation of hedge fund with more than $8 billion of assets under management for insider trading and a mismarking scheme, as well as an investigation of a major bank’s two wealth management subsidiaries for their failure to disclose conflicts of interest across the company’s wealth management franchise. Other matters Philip handled related to investment advisers involved market manipulation, style drift, undisclosed conflicts of interest, insider trading, whistleblowers, and supervisory and compliance failures.
As a member of the SEC’s Cyber Unit, Philip’s work focused on cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs). Philip initiated the SEC’s involvement in the cryptocurrency space, in 2013, with the SEC’s first Bitcoin related enforcement action against the operator of Bitcoin Savings and Trust, a Bitcoin-denominated Ponzi scheme, and subsequent cryptocurrency related matters. Philip advised the Commission on cryptocurrencies and was a founding member of the SEC’s Distributed Ledger Technology Working Group, formed to coordinate the response across the SEC’s divisions and offices to the emerging technology. Philip is also a contributor to Seward & Kissel’s Cryptocurrency and Blockchain blog, SKrypto.
In his time in government, Philip also handled matters involving broker-dealers, insurance and reinsurance companies, and expert network firms. He worked on matters involving internal corporate investigations, self-reports, and whistleblowers.
Prior to entering government service, Philip was a litigation associate at a private firm focused on securities and general commercial litigation for a big five accounting firm, a multi-modal transportation company, and a major boxing promoter, among others. Philip started his career as a staff attorney with the Criminal Defense Division of the Legal Aid Society, defending individuals charged with crimes in New York Supreme Court and New York City Criminal Court from arraignment through disposition or trial.
Philip received a J.D. from New York University School of Law, and a B.A. in Philosophy, cum laude, from Purchase College.
Investment Advisers and Broker-Dealers
- Hedge fund investigation: Related settled proceedings and civil actions against hedge fund adviser with more than $8 billion under management, its CFO, and portfolio managers for insider trading, a mismarking scheme, and supervisory failures, requiring the adviser to pay more than $10 million in disgorgement and penalties.
- Major insurance company: Settled proceedings against two registered investment adviser affiliates of a publicly-held company offering insurance, annuities, and other financial products, with more than $400 billion in regulatory assets under management, for failing to disclose conflicts of interest in connection with securities lending undertaken for variable annuity and variable life insurance mutual fund complexes they advised, and making misleading disclosures to the funds’ boards.
- In the Matter of Paramount Real Estate Advisor LLC (2017): Settled proceedings against adviser to private real estate funds for inadequate disclosure of a conflict of interest in connection with real estate transaction between two funds it advised.
- Major bank: Settled action requiring a major bank’s two wealth management subsidiaries to pay in excess of $250 million and admit wrongdoing for failing to disclose conflicts of interest to thousands of discretionary managed account clients across its wealth management franchise.
- Non-public investigation: Investigation of adviser to private funds for possible front-running or cherry-picking on high frequency trading platform.
- In the Matter of BNY Mellon Securities, LLC, et al. (2011): Complex investigation of manipulation of regional exchange’s trading system, resulting in sanctions against broker-dealer and trader for executing institutional customers’ orders at inferior prices in cross-trades with a handful of favored accounts.
Cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings
- Non-public investigations: Investigations into multiple initial coin offerings (ICOs) for possible violations of the federal securities laws.
- In the Matter of BTC Trading, Corp. and Ethan Burnside (2014): Settled proceedings against operator of unregistered cryptocurrency-denominated securities exchanges and broker-dealers.
- In the Matter of Erik T. Voorhees (2014): Settled proceedings against operator of Bitcoin related social media marketing venture and a popular Bitcoin betting site for the offer and sale of unregistered securities.
- SEC v. Trendon T. Shavers and Bitcoin Savings and Trust (E.D. Tex. 2013): Successful prosecution of SEC’s first Bitcoin related enforcement action, resulting in judgment against operator of a Bitcoin-denominated Ponzi scheme.
- SEC v. Bryan Arias, et al. (E.D.N.Y. 2012): Civil action charging fourteen sales agents in the $415 million Agape World, Inc. Ponzi scheme, which promised investors outsize returns from high interest bridge loans to commercial real estate developers and retail merchants.
- SEC v. Lawrence M. Brown, et al. (S.D.N.Y. 2010): Civil action against two certified public accountants and principals of accounting firm for fraudulent offering of what purported to be the common stock and promissory notes of a natural gas pipeline.
- Guest Lecturer, Digital Currency, Blockchains, and the Future of the Financial Services Industry, NYU’s Stern School of Business and NYU School of Law (March 27. 2019)
- Presenter, Cryptocurrencies, ICOs, and SEC Enforcement, NYSBA, Committee on White Collar Criminal Litigation (Sept. 20, 2018)
- Panelist, Impact of Blockchain Technology and Bitcoin Securities Markets, Annual International Institute for Securities Market Growth and Development (April 14, 2016)
- Guest Lecturer, Complex Criminal Investigations, University of Minnesota Law School (March 8, 2016)
- Panelist, Bitcoin and Blockchain Technology, FINRA, Risk Oversight and Operational Regulation Conference (Sept. 3, 2015)
- Presenter, Bitcoin Case Study, FBI, Annual Conference of Certified Public Accountants (July 14, 2015)
- Panelist, Bitcoin Enforcement Actions and the Crackdown on Cybercrime, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (March 9, 2015)
- Presenter, Bitcoin 101, Chicago Police Department, FBI, Cook County Attorney’s Office: Joint Financial Crimes Task Force (Nov. 18. 2014)
- Presenter, Bitcoin Basics, FINRA, Member Regulation (Nov. 3, 2014)
- Presenter, Virtual Currencies, Mid-Atlantic Regional Securities Conference (Oct. 29, 2014)
- Panelist, Cybersecurity and Virtual Currency, 38th Annual Southwest Securities Conference (Aug. 19, 2014)
- Panelist, Virtual & Digital Currency and Payment Systems, American Conference Institute (June 24, 2014)
- SEC, Division of Enforcement, Director’s Award (2018)
- SEC, Division of Enforcement, Director’s Award (2017)
- SEC, Division of Enforcement, Director’s Award (2017)
- SEC, Division of Enforcement, Director’s Award (2015)
- Office of the New York State Attorney General, Louis K. Lefkowitz Award (2006)