Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (the “Eastern District”), announced last Friday the creation of the Virginia Financial and Securities Fraud Task Force. This aggressive new task force will coordinate with representatives from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, FBI, Postal Service, Internal Revenue Service and state law enforcement agencies.
The announcement comes as no surprise on the heels of MacBride’s widely-reported announcements over the last several months concerning the expansion of his office’s capabilities to tackle financial crime.
The new task force will enhance the Eastern District’s ability to prosecute major national financial fraud cases. This is but one more step in the Eastern District’s apparent competition with the Southern District of New York for these high profile cases. The Southern District has historically been the most prominentvenue for financial fraud cases, but the Eastern District has been ramping up its efforts over the last six months and appears ready to give the Southern District a run for its money.
Known as the “rocket docket” because its judges push cases forward on an extremely expedited schedule, and armed with new prosecutors with financial expertise, the Eastern District is poised to prosecute these high-profile financial fraud cases quickly and expertly.
The Eastern District can claim jurisdiction over almost all securities fraud and other financial fraud cases involving public companies because the reports those companies are required to file with the SEC are sent to the EDGAR computer server located in Alexandria, Virginia.
In addition, the Eastern District’s proximity to Main Justice, as well as the federal agencies that will participate in the new task force, will be key to its ability to pursue these investigations aggressively and efficiently.
The public demanded action in response to the financial crisis and the government promised a swift and aggressive response. The Eastern District’s announcement is the latest evidence of the government’s preparations to punish financial fraud with its full weight.