Chris Ott, CIPP/US, formulates the strongest litigation and business strategies for clients facing new data and privacy risks. Unlike many in the privacy and data security field, Chris has experience and success in litigating the most complicated data security issues. Chris has first-chair wins in dozens of complex trials, and he has successfully argued many more appeals. He focuses on sensitive cyber incidents, national security matters, white-collar investigations, government enforcement actions, and high-stakes litigation.
Chris advises companies on where data security and privacy issues intersect with traditional regulatory and white-collar risks. Chris has worked on multi-agency governmental investigations that combine established risks with data security and privacy issues, including Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), defense contracting fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, accounting fraud, market manipulation, and assorted alleged misconduct by C-suite executives.
Where the most sophisticated actors have targeted his clients’ systems and intellectual property, Chris has the experience to fight back.
Leading from the front lines of cyber disputes
Disputes involving the newest technologies
In Re Yahoo! Inc. Securities Litigation, 17-cv-00373 (N.D. Ca. 2017)
- Intervened on behalf of Yahoo/Oath in the Northern District of California to modify and stay discovery proceedings in the securities class action flowing from the 2013 and 2014 Yahoo hacks.
- Because the relevant arguments involved sensitive national security information, drafted ex parte filing and supporting documents for in camera review under seal.
In Re: DHB Industries, Inc. Class Action Litigation, 05-CV-4296 (E.D. New York) and 08-3860 (Second Circuit)
- This case involved allegations of accounting fraud, insider trading, and other misconduct by the senior executives in a military contractor. Engaged in significant ongoing litigation with regard to the effect if any of the class action fund’s settlement upon restitution and forfeiture disbursement in the parallel securities fraud criminal case.
- Ultimately, the Second Circuit vacated the previously approved settlement. I briefed, argued, and won several interlocutory appeals during the course of this litigation.
United States v. Karim Baratov (ND Ca 2017)
- International criminal hacker who worked extensively for Russian Intelligence was charged for his role in the 2014-2016 hack of Yahoo.
- This criminal was apprehended and extradited to the United States, where he was convicted and sentenced.
United States v. Vitaly Korchevsky, et al., 15-CR-381 (RJD)
- Led investigation and indictment of a $100 million scheme to use hacked information from newswire services to trade upon securities. Scheme involved use of sophisticated hacking and communication methods to share information and attempt to subvert multiple countries’ securities protection regulations and laws.
- Primary duties include coordinating parallel actions with the Securities Exchange Commission in New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Denver, as well as the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom. Also coordinated parallel criminal actions taken by the District of New Jersey. Responsible for supervising team of 8 attorneys in this case.
United States v. Sandy Winick, et al., 13-CR-452 (ENV)
- Led investigation and indictment that tracked a $100 million market manipulation, securities fraud and money laundering scheme across multiple exchanges in nine countries. Scheme used sophisticated Internet touting businesses and email marketing campaigns to subvert multiple countries’ consumer protection regulations and laws.
- Coordinated parallel actions with the Securities Exchange Commission in New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, as well as multiple international securities regulatory agencies. Also coordinated criminal actions taken by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Royal Thai Police. Responsible for supervising a number of attorneys in this case.
United States v. Farukh Baig, et al., 13-CR-351 (SJF)
- Led investigation, indictment and litigation in a case that charged the defendants with using the payroll systems of the 7-Eleven Franchisor organization to systematically engage in aggravated identity theft and to hide their employment of hundreds of illegal aliens.
- Primary duties included coordinating a multi-agency enforcement effort in multiple states and supervising a number of junior attorneys in this case.
United States v. Thomas Donovan, et al., 12-CR-127 (JS)
- Led the investigation, trial, conviction and sentencing in case that charged the defendants with engaging in a $30 million wire fraud scheme to steal investments made into their distressed mortgage investment fund and then launder the stolen proceeds through multiple nominee entities in multiple countries.
United States v. David H. Brooks, et al., 05-CV-688 (JS) & 06-CR-550 (JS)
- Led a 9-month jury trial involving $250 million insider trading, securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, tax fraud, procurement fraud, lying to auditors and testing-fraud allegations in the high-technology bullet-resistant polymer industry. This was the longest white-collar trial in district history and ended with convictions on all counts.
- Primary duties included:
- Utilizing "Stratify" database software to review and distribute 7 million discovery documents and 14 million pages of electronically stored information in less than 2 months.
- Coordinating and leading a privilege review of all discovery documents.
- Drafting over 50 motions and responses during the course of the trial.
- Investigating and repatriating more than $30 million dollars in laundered fraud proceeds from London, San Marino, Luxembourg, the Isle of Mann, the Seychelles, Panama and Malawi, requiring extensive cooperation between international law enforcement entities such as the London Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard), the FCA, the Luxemburg Grand Ducal Police, the RCMP.
- Overseeing the seizure and forfeiture of more than $180 million in domestic assets.
- Coordinating 75 witnesses from all over the country for an 8-month trial.
- Introducing more than 30,000 exhibits during the trial.
- Preparing and delivering a 6-hour, multi-media closing argument.
- Briefing and arguing two interlocutory appeals during the trial.
- Cross-examining expert witnesses on ballistic fibers, forensic accounting, personal private aviation and computer forensics.
- Personally supervising a large number of attorneys in this case.
United States v. Hamad Ali, et al., 06-CR-200 (ENV)
- Led a 2-month, $40 million Yemeni money transmitting and money laundering trial.
United States v. James Leonard, et al., 02-CR-881 (LDW)
- Drafted and argued an appeal of securities fraud convictions involving motion picture investment offerings.
United States v. Michael Romano, et al., 09CR168 (JFB)
- Led a 2-month, $40 million telemarketing fraud and consumer protection trial. In addition to obtaining the convictions, I won the forfeiture of nearly $20 million in fraud proceeds.
United States v. Joseph Romano, et al., 09-CR-170 (SJJ)
- Led a $20 million “boiler room” fraud investigation. In addition to the convictions, I won the forfeiture of more than $19 million in fraud proceeds.
United States v. Pedro Tavarez, 11-CR-178 (LDW)
- Investigated and negotiated a guilty plea to running a multi-million-dollar unlicensed check cashing business. Along with the guilty plea, the defendant forfeited $5 million.
United States v. Rick Abraham Cohen, 11-CR-482 (JS)
- Investigated, indicted and negotiated a guilty plea to running a $10 million luxury car scam. The complicated scam involved two main ways to defraud buyers and auto lenders. The defendant agreed to $10 million in restitution and forfeiture.
Chris has served as an influential law enforcement official for multiple administrations. In this capacity, Chris led some of the largest white-collar investigations in United States Department of Justice (DOJ) history, won dozens of trials as a first-chair litigator, and spearheaded some of the DOJ’s first successful cyber investigations. Most recently, Chris has served as Senior Counterintelligence and Cyber Counsel with the DOJ’s National Security Division.
While with the DOJ, Chris: investigated and charged the first insider trading case based upon hacked information. The international investigation was a joint effort with the Securities and Exchange Commission that resulted in charges against dozens of defendants located throughout the world.
- Investigated and charged the largest data breach in history: the hacks of Yahoo by Russian intelligence operatives, which resulted in the loss of more than a billion customers’ personally identifiable information to a foreign intelligence organization, the theft of valuable trade secrets, and the reduction of more than $350 million in the multibillion dollar acquisition of Yahoo by Verizon.
- Led a joint DOJ/FBI outreach program across industries to raise awareness of national security, cybersecurity, and espionage threats against American companies.
- Led threat analysis teams to study potential national security challenges posed by various classified cyber threats.
- Participated as the National Security Division representative to cross-agency governmental crisis groups convened to prevent hacking of ballot boxes in the 2016 election.
- Led numerous multi-agency governmental investigations, including Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), defense contracting fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, accounting fraud, market manipulation, and assorted misconduct by C-suite executives.
- Led numerous public and non-public counterintelligence investigations.Participated in DOJ’s contributions to the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS).
Prior to assuming his role in the NSD, Chris served as senior trial counsel to in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY). In that position, Chris pioneered the work of the DOJ in cases that combined white collar and cyber issues.
Chris also held various interim and permanent leadership positions as an assistant United States attorney (AUSA) for the Southern District of California and the EDNY. As an AUSA, he prosecuted cyber-, fraud, and public corruption matters, among others, winning more than 30 cases jury trials as a first-chair litigator. Subjects of Chris' investigations have also been featured on the true-crime TV show "American Greed."
Chris’s work has been featured or cited in cyber-, economic espionage, and white-collar matters by numerous major media outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, NPR, CNN, CNBC, and Vanity Fair, among others.
After Law School, Chris clerked for two federal judges: the Honorable Harris Hartz (10th Cir.) and the Honorable Denis Hurley (EDNY).
Admitted to Practice
District of Columbia, 2019
U.S. Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit
U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit
U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York
U.S. District Court Southern District of New York
U.S. District Court District of New Jersey
J.D., Emory University School of Law, 2001, with honors
- Emory Scholar
B.A., Anthropology and Biochemistry, Dartmouth College, 1998
Memberships & Affiliations
- International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), 2014-present
- Mortgage Fraud Coordinator, Eastern District of New York, 2013-2016
- Cyber Crime Working Group, Eastern District of New York, 2014-2018
- New Hampshire Hannah House, 1997-1998
- Sexual Abuse Peer Advisors Program, Dartmouth College
- Assistant Attorney General Award for Excellence, Department of Justice, 2018
- National Victim Rights Champion, United States Department of Justice, 2015
- Award for Meritorious Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2011
- Award for Meritorious Service, Internal Revenue Service, 2011
- Award for Meritorious Service, Defense Contracting Investigative Service, 2011
- Award for Meritorious Service, Defense Contracting Auditing Agency, 2011
- Special Commendation, Money Laundering Unit, London Metropolitan Police
- Cyber Counsel, National Security Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., 2016-2018
- Senior Trial Counsel, held various leadership posts in the Business and Securities Fraud Unit, United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, 2013-2018
- Assistant United States Attorney, held various leadership posts in the Business and Securities Fraud Unit, United States Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, 2008-2013
- Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney’s Office , Southern District of California, 2004-2008
- Judicial Clerk, Hon. Denis Hurley, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, 2002-2004
- Judicial Clerk, Hon. Harris Hartz, United States Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit, 2001-2002
- Emory Scholar, Emory University School of Law, Atlanta, 2001