Compliance and Enforcement

We assist financial institutions in developing compliance and supervisory programs, policies and procedures. We also advise clients on the development of compliance surveillance capabilities and new trading systems and the implementation of regulatory mandates. We work closely with Davis Polk’s Litigation Department defending broker-dealers and their officers and employees in SEC and SRO examinations, investigations and enforcement actions. Lawyers from our FIG, antitrust, corporate, investment management and white collar criminal defense and regulatory enforcement groups work together as our integrated Global Compliance Group.

Areas of Experience

Anti-Money Laundering/Antiterrorist Financing

We have extensive experience helping financial institutions anticipate and comply with the evolving and heightened standards resulting from the USA PATRIOT Act, the aggressive law enforcement environment and highly charged political atmosphere. We have also represented a number of major financial institutions in reaching settlements with U.S. financial regulators, FinCEN and law enforcement agencies in some of the most high-profile actions brought in the last few years.

Economic Sanctions

We bring deep experience to compliance, transactional and defense advice to clients affected by economic sanctions administered by the OFAC. We help clients establish their compliance programs, plan and conduct transactional due diligence, interact with regulators on licensing, compliance and enforcement issues, and handle litigation affected by sanctions issues.

Anti-Corruption Laws

We assist international financial institutions in complying with U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and transnational conventions that prohibit making payments or giving things of value to foreign officials.

Bank Regulatory/SEC/SRO Investigations

The Trading and Markets practice, together with the firm’s Litigation Department, advises banks and broker-dealers in responses to bank regulators, SEC and SRO examinations and preliminary inquiries. We also defend clients in enforcement proceedings, criminal prosecutions and securities litigation. These matters involve insider trading, market manipulation, OTC market making, supervisory and systems failures.

Internal Investigations

We have been involved in some of the most complicated and comprehensive regulatory and white collar cases of our time. Davis Polk is a leader in conducting internal investigations and navigating the issues that financial institutions face in this context.


Our Trading and Markets practice provides substantial expertise in developing, implementing and enhancing supervisory and compliance programs, policies and procedures.


We have conducted broad-ranging compliance reviews, including reviews of the retail sales practices of a major investment bank, the use of in-house and third-party broker-dealers by a large financial conglomerate, and the equity derivatives business of a non-U.S. financial institution.

Corporate Governance

We have special experience in advising financial institutions on a broad spectrum of corporate governance issues, including board structure and responsibilities, development of codes of conduct and whistleblower policies, certifications in SEC reports, disclosure obligations, loans to insiders, corporate communications, crisis management and employee and executive compensation plans.

Notable Matters

  • A major financial institution relating to parallel investigations brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, SEC, OCC and the NASD concerning anti-money laundering and bank secrecy issues 

  • A major European financial institution in connection with a criminal investigation by the DOJ into the bank’s dollar clearing activities, OFAC compliance procedures and other Bank Secrecy Act compliance matters.

  • A large broker-dealer in connection with SEC market sweeps involving short sale requirements and NYSE investigation into sponsored access 

  • A major U.S. financial institution in order to conduct a broad and thorough internal investigation of the institution’s compliance framework generally and specific instances of fraud.