Grant Fondo, an experienced federal prosecutor and former Assistant US Attorney in the Northern District of California, is founder and Co-Chair of its Digital Currency & Blockchain practice, Co-Chair of the firm’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act practice, and part of the Investigations for Technology team. He is a partner in the firm's Securities Litigation & White Collar Defense group, and in its Data, Privacy & Cybersecurity practice. Grant is a former head of Litigation for Goodwin’s northern and southern California offices. He represents technology, Fintech, blockchain, digital currency, private equity, venture capital, and individual clients in a wide range of regulatory and contested matters.
Grant has significant experience conducting trials and arbitrations, as well as representing clients before governmental agencies. He focuses his practice on white collar criminal defense, blockchain and digital currency, securities and class action litigation, federal and state regulatory matters including before the DOJ, SEC, FTC, State Attorneys General, District Attorneys, and FinCEN, cybersecurity and privacy matters, internal investigations, and commercial disputes, and often advises boards on a variety of matters.
Grant is recognized by Chambers USA for his White Collar Defense practice and ranked as a leading lawyer by Chambers FinTech for his blockchain and cryptocurrency work, recommended by The Legal 500 US for Financial Services Litigation, White Collar Defense, and Fintech, by U.S. News Best Lawyers for his White Collar Defense work, and by Benchmark Litigation as a “Future Star” litigator. He has been selected as a Top White Collar Lawyer by Daily Journal for the third consecutive year, by The American Lawyer as “Litigator of the Week” for successful defense at trial of former J.P. Morgan Securities LLC analyst Ashish Aggarwal on 30 counts of criminal conspiracy, insider trading and wire fraud charges, and has been recognized as a National Law Journal Trailblazer in both White Collar and Cryptocurrency, Blockchain and Fintech. Grant is also a member of the Government of Bermuda's Global Fintech Advisory Board, relating to blockchain and fintech, and a member of the Crypto Valley Association in Switzerland.
Grant’s current matters include:
- Representing domestic and international companies, DAOs, and executives in response to SEC, DOJ, CFTC, IRS, OFAC and state investigations relating to digital assets
- Representing current and former members of the board of directors of a bank in relation to an OCC and DOJ investigation
- Representing a private company in regards to an internal investigation, and in response to a criminal investigation, relating to allegations of an executive defrauding investors
- Representing a national digital asset exchange in opposing an IRS John Doe Summons
- Representing a former analyst of a major US bank charged with insider trading by the US Department of Justice and SEC in the Central District of California; Grant successfully defended Ashish Aggarwal at the criminal trial, obtaining an acquittal on all 30 counts. The SEC matter is ongoing
- Representing a UK company in response to a criminal DOJ antitrust investigation
- Representing the former CEO of Wells Fargo in civil class action and derivative litigation and SEC and OCC investigations, and RICO civil litigation
- Representing an engineer relating to the alleged theft of trade secrets in a criminal investigation and civil litigation; the U.S. Attorney’s Office launched an investigation but declined to prosecute
- Representing a CEO in response to SEC allegations of insider trading in advance of a merger
Grant’s recent matters include:
- Represented the second largest US-based digital currency exchange in responding to one of only four IRS exchange cases ever filed by the IRS. Grant Fondo and team successfully fended off an IRS request for a wide swath of account holder information (including user IP addresses, employment data, sources of wealth, net worth, and banking details). He previously defeated the IRS is the first ever such case, IRS v. Coinbase
- Represented and successfully defended at trial a client criminally charged with receiving Medicare kickbacks; after a five week federal criminal trial in 2023 the jury hung, but with a significant majority favoring acquittal. The government then dismissed the case in its entirety rather than proceed to retrial
- Represented a lawyer criminally charged with conspiring to set up offshore entities
- Represented the CEO of a healthcare company in response to criminal charges alleging his receipt of more than $8 million in kickbacks; sentenced to probation, with no incarceration
- Represented the issuer of a top digital token in response to the SEC’s investigation of the issuer’s alleged illegal Initial Coin Offering, successfully obtaining a no action letter after a more than two year investigation
- Representing a former CEO against criminal charges of securities fraud and wire fraud in the SDNY relating to the sale of digital assets
- Represented the Tezos Foundation in a securities class action pending in the Northern District of California
- Represented Tierion in its settlement with the SEC regarding the company’s token issuance
- Represented Poloniex in its settlement with the SEC regarding its trading of digital assets
- Represented an individual involved with illegal trading in a CFTC investigation, with no action taken
- Represented a former board member of a public company in an SEC investigation in regards to alleged insider trading while in possession of confidential information about a pending acquisition, successfully obtaining a no action letter
- Represented two former executives in an SEC and DOJ investigation relating to alleged securities fraud, with no action taken
- Represented the issuer of a digital token in response to the SEC’s investigation of the issuer’s alleged illegal Initial Coin Offering, with no action taken
- Represented a client in a post-merger arbitration, resulting in a favorable verdict and multi-million attorney fees award
- Represented Coinbase in IRS v. Coinbase in the Northern District of California
- Successful defense at the trial of former J.P. Morgan Securities LLC analyst Ashish Aggarwal on conspiracy, insider trading, and wire fraud charges. A Central District of California jury found Aggarwal not guilty on 26 counts related to his role in an alleged insider trading scheme. The court later granted defendant’s motion to dismiss the remaining four counts. This is a rare defense victory in an insider trading case and the first since the December 2016 US Supreme Court decision in Salman v. United States lowered the bar for prosecutors in insider trading cases
- Represented the former CEO of a company in a criminal investigation relating to cyber hacking in the Northern District of California, with no action taken
- Successfully obtained the dismissal of two federal RICO lawsuits filed against a former CEO of a major US bank, affirmed on appeal by the Ninth Circuit
- Represented a former executive of a public company in a Bank Secrecy Act investigation
- Led an internal investigation for a public company relating to insider trading
- Represented a digital currency exchange in obtaining the first civil order in which a federal court custodied digital currency
- Represented a criminal defendant in the Northern District of California facing a minimum of 10 years in jail; after filing a motion to suppress evidence, the US Attorney’s Office dismissed the indictment against the client shortly before trial
- Successfully obtained a dismissal of all charges filed against a defendant criminally charged with multiple counts of state securities fraud in an alleged multi-million dollar securities fraud
- Represented the special committee of a national organic food company in responding to a DOJ criminal investigation in the Eastern District of California, and negotiated a Non-Prosecution Agreement
- Represented a digital currency company in a DOJ settlement and the first ever FinCEN settlement with a virtual currency exchange
- Represented Sand Hill Exchange and its founders in the settlement of an SEC enforcement matter relating to derivatives and digital currency
- Represented an online equity company and its executives in response to an SEC investigation into the unregistered sale of securities and alleged illegal swaps. Resolved for client with no action taken
- Represented a well-known private equity fund in response to an SEC investigation concerning the fund’s alleged lack of disclosures to investors. Resolved for client with no SEC action taken
- Represented individuals in a False Claims Act healthcare investigation
- Represented one of the world's largest online communities in successfully moving to quash the DOJ subpoena seeking user information
- Represented Internet Archive and the American Library Association in the landmark smartphone privacy and 4th Amendment case of Riley v. California, whose position, outlined in a successful amicus brief, was in substance adopted by the Justices
Grant has been an active participant in bar association activities throughout his career, serving as:
- Steering Committee, Federal Bar Association, Northern District of California, 2016-2018
- Co-Chair, White Collar & Corporate Governance Subcommittee of the Securities Litigation Committee, ABA Section of Litigation, 2008-2022
- Member, Federal Courts Committee, Santa Clara County Bar Association, 2011-2015
He has been a member of the Northern District of California Criminal Justice Act panel since 2014, representing indigent federal criminal defendants.
He is a member of The Government of Bermuda's Global Fintech Advisory Board.
He is a former member of the Crypto Valley Association in Switzerland.
His volunteer work includes serving on the Board of Directors of the Los Alto-Mountain View PONY Youth Baseball League and serving as the head coach of Summit Denali High School’s varsity baseball team.
Prior to joining Goodwin, Grant served for nearly five years as an Assistant US Attorney in the Northern District of California, where he focused on prosecuting white collar crime, including investment, bank, financial, health care and securities fraud, drug trafficking and money laundering. Grant’s trials included obtaining the conviction of the owner of a large national company for bank fraud after a month-long trial, the conviction of a criminal defense lawyer for money laundering after a three-week trial, and a conviction for bankruptcy fraud after a two-week trial.
During his time as a federal prosecutor, he led a multi-jurisdictional take down of an international drug trafficking organization resulting in what was believed to be the largest seizure of methamphetamine in US history. This case received the 2012 Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area case of the year award, an effort run by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Grant is on the Northern District of California Criminal Justice Act panel and one of the co-founders of the joint criminal trial program between private law firms in Silicon Valley and Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender.
University of Virginia School of Law
University of Vermont
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Supreme Court
Recognition & Awards
Grant has been consistently recognized for his outstanding achievements on behalf of clients throughout his career. A selection of recent recognitions include:
- Am Law Litigation Daily 2023: Grant was awarded a “Litigator of the (Past) Week Shout Out” for a significant victory over the IRS on behalf of the second largest US-based digital currency exchange
- Chambers Fintech 2023: Grant Fondo has maintained Band 3 for BlockChain and Cryptocurrencies, and has recently been ranked Band 2 for Crypto asset Disputes
- Daily Journal: Grant Fondo was recognized as a top white collar lawyer for the third year in a row
- Chambers Fintech: Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies, which highlights that he “draws on his experience as a federal prosecutor when representing a wide variety of blockchain, digital asset, venture capital and private equity clients on contentious and enforcement mandates.”
- Chambers USA: Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations, which notes his “expertise in the financial technology sector” and that he "has outstanding judgment, he's always prepared and he is among our most trusted outside advisers. He consistently delivers a high level of service and we especially value his service with complex governmental matters." His clients also share that Mr. Fondo "has a very good sense of the big picture and what to focus on. He has a very good touch with clients that are in high-stress situations and he is a very robust advocate."
- The Legal 500 US as a recommended lawyer for White Collar Defense, Financial Services Litigation and for Fintech
- The Best Lawyers in America Best Lawyers for Criminal Defense: White-Collar and Litigation - Securities 2022-2023
- Benchmark Litigation as a Litigation Star in California in 2021 and 2022
- Daily Journal as a Top California White Collar Lawyer in 2020 and 2021
- National Law Journal in 2018, as a Cryptocurrency, Blockchain and Fintech Trailblazer, and in 2015 as a White Collar Trailblazer
- The American Lawyer's “Litigator of the Week” in 2017 for the successful defense at trial of former J.P. Morgan Securities LLC analyst Ashish Aggarwal on conspiracy, insider trading, tender offer fraud and wire fraud charges
Grant is the co-founder and editor of Goodwin’s Digital Currency & Blockchain Perspectives blog.
He is a frequent writer and sought-after speaker on blockchain and cryptocurrency, initial coin offerings (ICOs), SEC enforcement, and white collar litigation topics.
Grant’s recent speaking engagements include:
- Interviewed, “U.S. Crypto Regulation Bill Needs More Work to Define Boundaries, Former Prosecutor Says,” CoinDesk TV, August 2022
- Speaker, “Crypto Decentralization and Web3: The Legal and Regulatory Landscape – Uncork SF, San Francisco, May 2022
- Presenter, “Blockchain Litigation - A Discussion of the Latest Civil, Regulatory and Criminal Cases,” Webinar, October 2021
- Presenter, “Digital Asset Frontlines - Understanding the NFT Revolution and What It Means for In-House Counsel,” ACC Sports & Entertainment Network, Webinar, April 2021
- Speaker, “The Rise of Blockchain and How it Will Transform the Real Estate industry,” 9th Annual Real Estate and Law (REAL) Symposium, Stanford, February 2020
- Speaker, “Virtual Currencies Banking & Regulating: How to Manage the Biggest Emerging Risks While Drawing the Benefits,” ACI’s 2nd Financial Crime Executive Roundtable, New York, September 2019
- Speaker, “Blockchain Governance and Security,” 16th Annual Stanford Digital Economy Best Practices Conference, Stanford, June 2019
- Speaker, “Initial Coin Offerings,” American Bar Association’s (ABA’s) 5th Annual Blockchain, Digital Currency and ICO National Institute, New York, April 2019
- Speaker, “The Evolving Regulatory Landscape of Virtual Currencies and Blockchain Technology from the Regulatory Agencies’ Perspective,” University of San Francisco Law Review Symposium, San Francisco, January 2019
- Speaker, “Blockchain Industry and the Banking Industry,” Western Bankers Association, Webinar, October 2018
- Speaker, “Token Sales: Perspectives from Legal, Investment and Startups,” BlockCon, Santa Monica, October 2018
- Speaker, “Blockchain Innovation and Opportunity,” ABA Blockchain Technology, Digital Currency, and ICO National Institute, New York, April 2018
- Speaker, Draper University Executive Blockchain Program, San Mateo, CA, April 2018
- Panelist, “Raising Capital in an ICO World: Dissecting the Value of New Fundraising Opportunities,” Goodwin & Fintech Sandbox Hosted Panel Discussion, San Francisco, March 2018
- Speaker, Yahoo! Finance All Markets Summit – Crypto, New York, February 2018
- Speaker, “Legal Considerations for Token Generation Events in 2018,” World Crypto Economic Forum, San Francisco, January 2018
His recent publications include:
- Quoted, “Kraken Gets IRS Summons Narrowed For Crypto User Info,” Law360, July 2023
- Co-Author, “DAO Governance Token Holders Can Be Held Responsible for Security Incident,” Westlaw Today, May 1, 2023
- Quoted, “New CFTC Bill Could Overrule SEC but Leaves Fate of Many Crypto Tokens Unresolved,” Blockworks, August 2022
- Co-Author, “What the ‘NFT Indictment’ Tells Us About the Trading of Digital Assets,” BlockTribune, June 2022
- Co-Author, “SEC Enforcement Broadens Its Crypto Focus,” Goodwin Client Alert, May 2022
- Co-Author, “SEC Complaint Against Ripple (XRP) and Possible Regulatory Signals Ahead for 2021,” Goodwin Client Alert, January 2021
- Co-Author, “BitMEX Founder’s Charges Highlight Risks for DeFi,” CoinDesk (November 2020)“YLR: Cryptocurrency Revisited,” Your Legal Rights Podcast, October 2020
- Co-Author, “COVID-19 Litigation and Government Investigations in the US: What We Are Seeing Now, And What the Future Holds,” Goodwin Client Alert, April 2020
- Contributor, “ICOs and the Future of Capital Raising: Will Digital Coins and Blockchain Play an Important Role in Capital Markets?” MergerMarket, April 2018
- Co-Author, "SEC Sues Longfin Over Trades Following Acquisition of Cryptocurrency Company,” Digital Currency & Blockchain Perspectives, April 2018
- Co-Author, “FinCEN States Sellers of Tokens are MSBs; FinCEN Registration May be Required for ICOs,” Goodwin Client Alert, March 2018