EXCLUSIVE No. 2 federal prosecutor in Manhattan leaves post for Fried Frank

REUTERS/Eddie Keogh\
A worker arrives at his office in the Canary Wharf business district in London February 26, 2014.. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh
  • Ilan Graff was a Southern District of New York prosecutor since 2012, including as deputy U.S. attorney
  • He'll reunite at Fried Frank with former U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman

Nov 30 - A top prosecutor for the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office is leaving his post to join his former boss at a New York law firm.

Deputy U.S. Attorney Ilan Graff is joining Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson as a partner in New York, the firm confirmed Tuesday.

The move reunites Graff with former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who leads Fried Frank's white collar defense practice.

Graff was Berman's counsel when then-President Donald Trump ousted him in June 2020. Berman refused to resign at first, and critics accused the Trump administration of undermining the Justice Department's independence. Berman left only after former U.S. attorney general William Barr said he would allow Berman's deputy, Audrey Strauss, to be his interim replacement.

Berman in a statement said he was eager to work with Graff again and cited his "deep familiarity with the DOJ, the SEC and other regulatory agencies." Graff said he was "delighted" to be entering private practice at the firm.

Graff served as chief counsel to Strauss until January, when he became deputy U.S. attorney of the office. He first joined the office in 2012.

Strauss in a statement called Graff "an outstanding lawyer of immense talent who provided the office with highly valuable insights and advice."

As an assistant U.S. attorney, Graff prosecuted Jiaqiang Xu, a former IBM Corp software engineer in China who pleaded guilty to stealing proprietary source code from the company. Xu was sentenced to five years in prison in January 2018.

Later, as co-chief of the terrorism and international narcotics unit, Graff helped oversee the government's case accusing state-owned Turkish lender Halkbank of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions in October 2019.

Halkbank has pleaded not guilty and has argued it is immune from prosecution under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in October that Halkbank can be prosecuted.

The Manhattan U.S. attorney's office said last month that Margaret Garnett will be the next deputy U.S. attorney there.

Read more:

Ex-SDNY chief Berman lands at Fried Frank as revolving door picks up speed

additional reporting by Jody Godoy

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at d.thomas@thomsonreuters.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.