William Jacobson

William (Billy) Jacobson served as the assistant chief in the criminal division’s fraud section from 2007 until late 2008.

Under then-deputy chief Mark Mendelsohn, Jacobson helped turn the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act into one of the cornerstones of the DOJ’s corporate enforcement programme. Jacobson served as Mendelsohn’s right-hand-man, training and coordinating with FBI agents, handling daily communications with the Securities and Exchange Commission and attending quarterly meetings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s anti-bribery group. He supervised more than 50 cases, including an investigation into German conglomerate Siemens that later resulted in a record-breaking settlement involving US$1.6 billion in criminal and civil fines paid to authorities in the US and Germany.

Jacobson was not around to see the Siemens settlement through. He left the Justice Department in September 2008 to become a partner at Fulbright & Jaworski. In 2010, Mendelsohn also left the fraud section for a lucrative job at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, and their departures prompted Forbes magazine to write an article criticising the FCPA unit for becoming a “revolving door” between government service and private practice. The article noted that the law firm Jacobson left for, Fulbright & Jaworski, had been hired by Swiss oil services firm Weatherford International to conduct an internal investigation into potential foreign bribery misconduct that the DOJ began scrutinising during Jacobson’s tenure at the fraud section. A year later, in 2009, Jacobson was hired by Weatherford International as co-general counsel to oversee a compliance overhaul at the company in the face of the FCPA probe.

After five years at Weatherford, Jacobson moved to Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe where he practised alongside former DOJ colleague Jonathan Lopez, who served as deputy chief of the department’s money-laundering and bank integrity unit. The pair moved to Allen & Overy in 2020.

Jacobson received his law degree from Georgetown University in 1993, and graduated from Tufts University in 1990.

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