For Effective Strategies & Real Solutions

With unprecedented resources, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and other marketplace watchdogs vigorously investigate and pursue actions against bankers, traders and other financial industry professionals.

These agencies often use the home-court advantage of administrative proceedings to seek various tough sanctions, including restitution, fines and bars from working in the securities industry. Investigations can stem from public outcry, a dissatisfied client or as part of a large-scale investigation. Even a seemingly marginal transgression or a false claim can put you, your career and your freedom at risk.

If you have come under investigation by any regulatory entity, you need help from a New York criminal defense attorney who knows what you’re up against and how to avoid penalties or limit your vulnerability with a well-measured plan of action. No matter should be taken lightly, and with over 20 years of legal experience, securities litigation lawyer Harlan Protass routinely handles the most complex financial cases and has repeatedly managed to exonerate –or effect even better outcomes – for his clients.

Once you learn about an active or impending investigation, contact Protass Law PLLC at 212.455.0335 to schedule a time to discuss your situation.


Attorney Harlan Protass

Manhattan lawyer Harlan Protass employs his extensive background and passion to provide the best possible defense to every client - in every case.

Read Harlan's Bio

Our Regulatory Experience & Areas of Focus

Defending investigations and charges for those who work in the securities industry requires familiarity with the dynamic regulatory procedures and enforcement practices of the SEC, FINRA and other regulatory agencies.

Based on his work in the financial services industry and his more than twenty years of legal experience, Attorney Harlan Protass has the skills necessary to help you protect your professional reputation and and respond to any regulatory inquiry or investigation.

Attorney Protass has represented corporate officers and directors, licensed brokers and traders, private equity and hedge fund principals and other financial industry professionals in a wide variety of formal and informal inquiries and investigations. From initial inquiries through in-depth investigations, we can evaluate your situation and advise you regarding the next steps and how to limit your exposure. This may include how to properly respond to subpoenas, what should be included in your testimony, and effective ways to handle settlement negotiations in any pre-trial or administrative hearings, as well as all the way through a trial. Some of the most common forms of securities fraud include:

Press & Publications

New York Law Journal

Not Guilty? Go to Jail

Written by Harlan Protass

Attorney Harlan Protass discusses the practical application of a practice known as “acquitted conduct sentencing,” where individuals receive jail sentences based on charges that actually ended with not guilty verdicts.

Read Article

The Regulatory Landscape Can Be Complex

In the securities industry, even undeserved attention can impact your professional reputation. If you’re under investigation or have concerns with any of the following actions, contact Protass Law PLLC:

SEC Investigations and Enforcement Actions

The SEC has principal authority nationwide to police the public markets. Its influence is wide reaching and it is empowered to bring both civil enforcement actions in federal court and administrative proceedings in its own internal court system. While the SEC does not itself have criminal authority, it can – and often does – refer matters for criminal prosecution.

FINRA Investigations and Enforcement Actions

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) is a private corporation that acts as a non-governmental, self-regulatory organization, handling brokerage firms and exchange markets. Its chief priority is the advancement of investor confidence through vigorous adherence to industry policies and federal law. Investigations can arise from many varied sources and FINRA has the authority to fine, suspend or bar financial services industry professionals from the securities industry.

NYSE Investigations and Enforcement Actions

As one of the most well-known exchanges in the world, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) is a self-regulatory organization like FINRA. The NYSE’s Enforcement Division investigates suspected abuses of their rules and polices. It is empowered to bring appropriate disciplinary actions and may even report egregious abuses to the SEC or law enforcement, which can, in turn, open their own independent investigations.

OFAC Violations

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) reports to the U.S. Treasury Department and is charged with enforcing regulations and trade sanctions that support national security and U.S. foreign policy. The sanctions and prohibited transactions imposed by OFAC are complex and include a constantly changing list of individuals, business and countries, making businesses with international interests at particular risk of possible penalties such as fines, the freezing of assets or arrest.

FCPA Violations

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 is a federal law aimed at providing financial transparency and criminalizing bribery of foreign officials. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is responsible for its enforcement and both individuals and corporations can be subjected to civil and/or criminal penalties for violations, including fines and possible incarceration.

Internal Investigations

Corporations oftentimes have the need to perform their own in-house inquires, either in anticipation of a regulatory action or to assess certain risk factors. We work with clients at all stages to gauge possible exposure and effectively create strategies to address accusations of negligence or fraud, derivative litigation, audits, whistleblower allegations and other corporate governance and control issues.

Corporate Compliance

Protass Law PLLC can be a vital asset to businesses needing assistance with developing, testing and implementing procedures and policies to ensure compliance with their fiduciary and legal responsibilities. We work closely with investigating agencies and take a proactive approach to training and document preparation, in addition to how transitions are made or certain agreements are brokered, thereby reducing any institution’s potential liability.

Special Assignments

When corporate officers, trustees, and boards of directors encounter matters that require particular sensitivity, assistance from outside legal counsel can be essential. Whether your organization needs to address shareholder disputes, compliance issues, merger and accusation concerns or financial record keeping irregularities, we can independently evaluate your situation and provide insight regarding possible exposure and going-forward strategies.

Know What You're Facing from Day One

Evaluating and mitigating risk is essential. If you’re under investigation or suspect you may become the target of a regulatory investigation or enforcement action, contact Protass Law PLLC at 212.455.0335 to consult with an experienced New York securities litigation lawyer.

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