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Okeefe Nov 2005

Okeefe Nov 2005

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04/16/2011

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FormerGCDisbarredforAllegedMisuseofConfidentialInformation
AllegeduseofconfidentialinformationfromgovernmentenforcementworkrequiresformerGCtosurrenderD.C.Barmembership
BethanyBroidaandEmmaSchwartz
f,U
Articles
legalTimesNovember21,2005
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TheCommodityFuturesTradingCommissionisn'tthekindofplacewherepeoplegotomaketheirmark.ButwhenDennisO'KeefeobtainedaS150millionsettlementwithoneofJapan'slargesttradinghouses,inMay1998,overamultimillion-dollarmarketmanipulationofcopper,thecareerbureaucratseemedtobeheadedforbiggerthinas
DennisQGKeefe
'mage:Robertowestbrook
YetthefalloutfromthesettlementwithSumitomoCorp.,whichwaspartoftheagency'slargestinvestigationinits30-yearhistory,hascausedO'Keefenothingbuttrouble.Ethicalquestionsoverwhetherhemisusedhisknowledgefromthecopperprobefollowedhimfromtheagencyintoprivatepracticeuntil,earlierthismonth,O'Keefe,bythenanattorneyatTroutmanSanders,consentedtodisbarment.ThelongtimegovernmentlawyerwasaccusedbytheD.C.Barofaslewofmisdeeds,includingbreakingthegovernment'srevolving-doorrules,revealing.confldentialinformationheobtainedwhileingovernment,knowinglymakingfalsestatements,destroyingevidence,perjuryandlyingtobarcounsel.Inagreeingtoforfeithislawlicense,O'Keefesaysthebardroppedmostofthecharges.Buttheactualagreementwiththebarremainsunderseal,andO'Keefedeclinedtoprovide
LegalTimes
withacopy.O'Keefe'sdisbarmentandhisquickresignationfromTroutmanSanderslastweekcappedamorethanfive-yearbattlebetweenO'KeefeandtheattorneysforSumitomo,whofirstraisedquestionsaboutO'Keefe'sbehavior.TothoseattorneyswhoinstigatedtheD.C.Bar'sprotractedinvestigationintoO'Keefe'sconduct,thedownfallofthemild-manneredlawyerwasafittingpunishmentforamantheybelievedprofitedfromhispursuitofSumitomo.ButtoO'Keefe,58,andmanyofhissupporters,hisdisbarmentwasanunfortunateoutcomeofaseriesofbaddecisionsthatsnowballedintoaliehecouldnotstop."Youknow,denialandfeardoalottoalteryourjudgment,"saysO'Keefe.
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http://www.Iaw.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=900005441579&slretum=1&hbxlogin=1
4/2/2011
 
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acuonsoveracoffeeatalocalStarbucks,amelancholyO'Keefedoesn'tlooklikeabig-timeplayer,someonewhohadgamedthesystemtocashinonhisgovernmentservice.Inhisbluestripedshirtandmaroontie,heresemblesmorecloselythebureaucrathewasformostofhiscareer."TherewerereasonsIdidthings,"hesays,shreddingthesleeveofhiscoffeecupintopiecesashespeaks."Buttheyturnedouttobepoordecisions."Now.O'Keefesays,he'slookingtomakeamends."Peoplekeeptellingmethatthingshappenforareason,"hesays."Thereasonhasyettomakeitselfapparent.I'mstillwaiting."
THEDEALERANDTHEBUREAUCRAT
WhenO'Keefe,a15-yearveteranoftheCFTC,launchedaninvestigationintopricemanipulationsinthecopper-tradingmarketinthefallof1995,heneverimagineditwouldensnaresomeofthebiggestpowerhousesinthefinancialmarkets.OneofthefirsttargetswasSumitomo,whichfireditsleadcoppertrader,YasuoHamanaka,forauthorizingtradesthatcostthecompany$2.6.billion.Theprobethenfocusedonothercompanies,includingMerrillLynch&Co.andGlobalMinerals&MetalCorp,Whentheinvestigationstarted,O'Keefe,alawyerintheenforcementdivision,knewlittleabouttheintricaciesofthemetalindustry.ButhesoanencounteredaCanadianscrap'metaldealernamedHerbertBlack,theheadofAmericanIron
&
Melalandalongtimetraderincopperfutures.Upsetoverthemillionshesaidhelostbythemanipulation,BlackwaseagertotalkandquicklybecameakeyinformantinO'Keefe'sinvestigation.Aflamboyantmultimillionaire,Blackgothisstartathisfather'scompany,whichhejoinedatage19.BythetimehemetO'Keefe,hewasalreadyalarger-than-lifefigure,afixtureontheMontrealsocialcircuitwhoenjoyedcollectingfineartandBeatlesmemorabilia.Blackwouldlaterearnareputationasaprofessionaltattletale,mostrecentlyexposingtheprice-fixingscandalatauctionhousesSotheby'sandChristie's.AndhisromanticflingwithsongwriterDeniseRichwasfodderforthegossipcolumns.DespiteoutwarddifferencesbetweensuchagregariousfigureandthemoreunassumingO'Keefe,therelationshipbetweenthetwomenblossomed,andtheybecameclosefriends.WhenO'Keefe'swifewasdiagnosedwitharareform
of
bonecancer,in1998,O'KeefesayshelookedforsupportfromBlack,whosefatherhaddiedofcancerwhenhewasayoungman.TheSumitomosettlementin1998wastheirfirstvictory,andBlackcontinuedtofeedO'Keefetipsonfurthermanipulationsinthe
coppertrade.
Yetasthetwowereprobingnewleads,O'Keefemadehisfirstfumble.HisinvestigationintoGlobalMineralstookahitwhenanadministrativelawjudgesoughttokickhimoffthecaseinJune2000forallegedlyfilingareportaboutthecompanythatcontained"knowinglyfalseandmisleadingstatements."Amonthlater,therulingwasoverturnedonappeal,buttheincidentremainedonO'Keefe'srecord.I-IemighthaveweatheredthatstormandremainedwiththeCFTC,haditnotbeenforhiswife'shealth.Hercancerappearedtobeprogressingfrombadtoworseduringthesummerof2000.Thenextroundoftreatmentwouldrestrictherphysicalactivities,includingdriving.Withthreechildrenathome,O'Keefeneededamoreflexibleworkschedule,buthesaysheCOUldn'tworkoutadealwiththeCFTC."IneededasolutiontowhatIthoughtwasadiresituation,"O'Keefesays.Black,itturnedout,wasinneedofsomehelp.AfteryearsoffeedingtheCFTCmorselsofinformation,hewaspreparingtotilesuitagainstSumitomoandothercompaniesforlossesinthecoppermarketontheLondonMetalExchange.O'KeefehadjustthesortofbackgroundBlackwaslookingfor.AwareofO'Keefe'stroubles,Blackmadehimanirresistibleoffer.AsthegeneralcounselforAmericanIron
&
Metal,O'Keefewouldearna$200,000annualsalary--doublehisgovernmentearnings.Evenbetter,O'Keefewaspromised5percentofanyrecoveryinthecopperlitigationfromthefirstS50millionand10percentofarecoveryworthmorethanthat.InDecember,O'Keefecameonboard.
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4/2/2011

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