Background - Practices (Details)

White Collar and Regulatory Enforcement


Former Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael K. Atkinson Joins Crowell & Moring

Brings Two Decades of Justice Department and Intelligence Agency Experience

Washington—February 17, 2021: Michael K. Atkinson, the former Inspector General of the U.S. Intelligence Community, is joining Crowell & Moring as a partner, expanding the firm’s white collar, internal investigations, and national security capabilities.

As the former presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed chief watchdog of the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies, Atkinson led dozens of high-profile investigations, including the investigation of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint that led to the first impeachment trial of then-President Trump. Atkinson supervised investigations related to counterintelligence and cybersecurity matters, procurement fraud, unauthorized disclosures of classified information, intelligence oversight abuses, and other highly sensitive allegations.

Prior to his Inspector General role, Atkinson served in senior Justice Department roles spanning two decades. Most recently, he was the Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division, where he oversaw the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and the Foreign Investment Review staff. Atkinson handled sensitive investigative matters involving national security, cybersecurity, export controls and sanctions, economic espionage, and the mishandling of classified information. He also oversaw the Justice Department’s participation in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) through its review of foreign acquisitions of domestic companies and efforts to prohibit or modify such transactions on national security grounds. In 2018, he received the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for National Security for his work in securing a non-prosecution agreement with a global software company to strengthen security protocols to increase information security by regulating remote access to U.S. company networks and transfers of sensitive data.

At Crowell & Moring, Atkinson will focus on white collar defense, internal investigations, and complex civil litigation. He will co-lead the firm’s National Security practice with Paul Rosen, who served as chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security during the Obama-Biden administration, and Adelicia Cliffe, who has extensive experience advising clients in national security review of transactions by CFIUS, and in export control, industrial security, and supply chain security matters in the government contracts space. The practice advises clients on transactions under review by the federal government, export control matters, national security and False Claims Act investigations, as well as high-profile internal investigations.

“Michael’s well-deserved reputation as an advocate for truth and having uncompromised integrity conducting highly-sensitive investigations positions him well to co-lead our growing National Security practice,” said Philip T. Inglima, chair of Crowell & Moring. “There are few prosecutors in the country with Michael’s depth and breadth of experience in white collar prosecutions and national security matters. He knows how to effectively interface with critical constituencies for clients, including Congress, the intelligence community, and other state and federal enforcement agencies.”

Atkinson also served as Acting Chief and Deputy Chief in the Fraud and Public Corruption Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. At the U.S. Attorney’s Office and, earlier, as a Trial Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, he oversaw and was the lead prosecutor on several significant white-collar matters involving procurement fraud, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), export controls and sanctions, securities fraud, cyber fraud, and money laundering, among other offenses, including the following:

  • Operation Five Aces, the largest domestic bribery and bid steering scheme in the history of federal contracting, which secured the convictions of 20 individuals and charges against three companies as part of a $30-million bribery scheme and an attempt to steer a $1 billion contract to a favored government contractor.
  • He was one of the first - and remains one of the relatively few - federal prosecutors to obtain jury trial convictions of individuals for violating the FCPA.
  • The conviction of a former congressman for defrauding a campaign committee.
  • The conviction of a former congressman for bribery, money laundering, and obstruction of justice.
  • Deferred prosecution agreements with two multi-national financial institutions, which agreed to pay over $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and regulatory charges that the institutions violated economic sanctions targeting Iran and Sudan.

“Michael is one of the most recognized and accomplished federal prosecutors in the country and it would be hard to find someone more respected by his peers,” said Daniel Zelenko, chair of the firm’s White Collar & Regulatory Enforcement Group. “The credibility he has earned over the course of his career will be invaluable to our clients who face significant government exposure.”

Prior to his government service, Atkinson was a partner at Winston & Strawn, where he focused on solving complex civil and white collar criminal legal issues for a wide range of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, corporate executives, and high-profile public officials.

“I am thrilled to be reunited with several of my former colleagues from the Justice Department and to join a firm with such an outstanding reputation in the white collar bar for handling sensitive investigations and disputes,” Atkinson said. “In addition to the firm’s commitment to excellence, I was drawn to its collaborative culture and broad range of top-tier practices to assist clients address complex and urgent legal problems at the nexus of technology, government contracts, and cross-border enforcement actions involving fraud and national security issues.”

Atkinson earned his law degree from Cornell Law School and his bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University.


Rebecca Carr
Director of PR, Media and Communication