Christopher J. Steskal

Chair, White Collar & Regulatory Defense

Partner, Securities Litigation  

San Francisco 415.875.2439


Christopher Steskal is Chair of the firm’s White Collar & Regulatory Defense Group. Chris is an experienced trial lawyer with nearly 25 years of experience litigating both criminal and civil matters. He has handled cases in the areas of securities fraud, unfair competition, trade secret theft, public corruption, FCPA, tax fraud, insider trading, stock option backdating, mail and wire fraud, antitrust, and money laundering, among others. Chris has represented audit committees and companies while leading internal investigations in cases involving accounting fraud, bribery, embezzlement, kick-backs, tax compliance, export compliance, and health and safety issues, among others. Chris also frequently represents companies and individuals before the DOJ, SEC, and other regulatory agencies.

Before joining Fenwick & West, Chris served as a federal prosecutor in San Francisco for six years and prosecuted a wide variety of white collar crimes. He was a member of the Securities Fraud Section and one of the founding members of the Northern District’s Stock Options Backdating Task Force. Chris worked closely with the SEC in San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere while conducting corporate fraud investigations. During his tenure as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Chris represented the United States in numerous jury trials, evidentiary hearings and appeals before the Ninth Circuit. He was lead counsel in several stock option backdating investigations involving Silicon Valley companies, investigations of technology companies for revenue recognition fraud, and other corporate fraud investigations.

Recent Regulatory Representations

  • Internal investigations and related DOJ and SEC investigations on behalf of several multinational corporations into bribery and kick-back allegations in jurisdictions throughout the world, including China, India, Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia
  • Internal investigations for several companies and boards into allegations relating to accounting and financial improprieties
  • DOJ investigation into whistle-blower allegations of accounting fraud on behalf of technology company
  • Internal investigation for airline into whistle-blower allegations regarding safety and FAA regulatory compliance
  • FTC investigation into privacy issues on behalf of social networking company
  • DOJ tax fraud investigation on behalf of multinational company

Recent Litigation Representations

  • Securities class action litigation for life sciences and technology companies
  • Insider trading case filed by the SEC against several alleged members of an insider trading ring
  • Business and Professions Code § 17200 litigation brought by the State of California against financial services company, as well as related class action litigation
  • Theft of trade secrets litigation for technology companies

Recent Individual Representations

  • CEOs, CFOs, and other executives in DOJ and SEC investigations relating to accounting fraud and stock option backdating, as well as related shareholder and derivative litigation
  • Several individuals in insider trading investigations by the DOJ and SEC
  • Hedge fund manager in fraud investigation by the DOJ
  • Board members in DOJ and SEC investigations of conduct by management
  • Employees of multi-national company in DOJ and SEC investigation into alleged accounting fraud and FCPA violations
  • Individuals in UBS tax fraud investigation

Judicial Clerkships

Honorable James R. Browning, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Honorable Harry L. Hupp, United States District Court for the Central District of California

Bar Activities

Chair, Securities Litigation Section, Bar Association of San Francisco

Executive Committee, Northern District of California Chapter, Federal Bar Association

Selected Publications

Developing the Next Generation of Leaders in the Securities Litigation Bar, The Bar Association of San Francisco, March 2010

Must A Corporation Disclose Privileged Information To Avoid Prosecution, And If It Does So, Will It Be At The Mercy Of The Plaintiffs' Bar? – Recent Developments In DOJ Policy And Case Law, Fenwick & West Securities Litigation Update, January 21, 2009

DOJ Targets Approximately 20,000 Investors as Co-Conspirators in Criminal Tax Fraud Investigation of UBS, Fenwick & West Litigation Alert, November 19, 2008

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: The Next Corporate Scandal?, Fenwick & West Securities Litigation Alert, January 28, 2008

Insider Trading Is Back, Fenwick & West Securities Litigation Alert, September 4, 2007

Selected Media References

Madoff Behind Bars, but Probe Grinds Forward, Associated Press, July 1, 2009

Peter John Schuller, Is Madoff the Tip of the Iceberg?, KQED Radio, June 30, 2009

Tough Post-Enron Regulations No Match for Satyam CEO, Investor's Business Daily, January 8, 2009

Thomas Bron, Greasy Palms: When bribery investigations become public, expect follow-on civil suits, California Lawyer, September 2008

Mid-year Report on Insider-Trading Enforcement, Compliance Week, July 25, 2008


Chris started his law career in the litigation group at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in New York.