Top COVID-19 fraud prosecutor returns to law firm Latham & Watkins

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland (Left) looks toward federal prosecutor Kevin Chambers (Right) after Chambers was appointed to be the Justice Department's chief pandemic fraud prosecutor, during a meeting of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Fraud Enforcement Task Force at the Justice Department in Washington, U.S., March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Pool

(Reuters) - A U.S. Justice Department official who oversaw an effort to crack down on COVID-19 pandemic fraud is returning to law firm Latham & Watkins.

Kevin Chambers, most recently an associate deputy attorney general, will work in Latham’s white-collar defense and investigations practice in Washington, D.C. Chambers previously worked at the firm for about six years before joining the Biden administration in 2021.

At the Justice Department, Chambers was involved in developing updates to policies on corporate crime. In March, he was named director for COVID-19 fraud enforcement, responsible for managing federal investigations and prosecutions of those accused of bilking government relief programs during the pandemic.

Chambers described the effort as a “first-of-its-kind” undertaking, given the amount of money the government doled out to businesses and unemployed individuals in the early months of the pandemic. The Justice Department has seized more than $1.2 billion connected to fraud schemes since the start of the pandemic and charged more than 1,500 people, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in October.

Chambers said federal prosecutors will likely continue pursuing pandemic relief fraud cases for years to come. The Justice Department earlier this year launched three “strike force teams” focused on the issue.

“There’s a tremendous amount of work yet to do,” he said.

Chambers’ deputy, Michael Galdo, has been named acting director of COVID-19 fraud enforcement.

During his prior stint at Latham, Chambers, a former federal prosecutor in Washington, handled white-collar, securities and professional liability matters. His clients included information technology company Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp and the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

Chambers said he was drawn back to the firm because of its global profile and its roster of former top government lawyers. In recent weeks, the firm has re-hired Nick McQuaid, a former senior official in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and brought on Danielle Conley and Jonathan Su, who served in President Joe Biden’s White House counsel’s office.

Chambers said that experience will help give the firm an understanding of “exactly what’s important to government regulators and entities as they make inquires.”

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.