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Leslie A. Hakala

Fax +1.310.552.5001
Leslie Hakala is a partner in the firm’s Los Angeles office. She focuses her practice on matters related to government enforcement, internal investigations, white collar defense, and commercial litigation.

Before joining K&L Gates, she was Senior Counsel in the Enforcement Division of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Los Angeles Regional Office. During her 13 years at the SEC, she was responsible for planning and conducting strategic investigations (often with international components) into alleged violations of a wide range of federal laws; recommending potential enforcement actions; negotiating settlements; and litigating matters, including pleadings, discovery, and evidentiary hearings. Among other significant matters, (listed among her representative work) Ms. Hakala was the primary attorney responsible for investigating the role of placement agents in California’s public pension funds’ investment decision-making process.

She has extensive experience working on high-profile matters with international, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and regulators, self-regulatory organizations, financial institutions, private equity funds, and both public and private companies.

Professional Background

Following law school, Ms. Hakala served as a Law Clerk to Judge Alex Kozinski on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; as a Bristow Fellow in the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice; and as a Law Clerk to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the U.S. Supreme Court. After her Supreme Court clerkship, Ms. Hakala spent several years concurrently working in the corporate and securities litigation departments of a prominent national law firm.


  • SEC v. ARVCO Capital Research LLC, et al., Lit. Rel. No. 22342 (April 23, 2011). High-profile investigation into private equity and real estate funds’ use of placement agents to secure multi-billion dollar investments from California’s public pension funds. In close coordination with CalPERS, the SEC charged the ex-CEO of the organization and a placement agent with fraud for falsifying documents to induce an investment firm to pay approximately $20 million in placement agent fees. A subsequent criminal indictment led the ex-CEO of CalPERS to plead guilty and admit to accepting a variety of other bribes and kickbacks from the placement agent.
  • In the Matter of Advanced Cell Technology, Inc., Exch. Act Rel. No. 73066, and In the Matter of Gary H. Rabin, Exch. Act Rel. No. 73067 (Sept. 10, 2014). First SEC action where both an issuer and its ex-CEO were charged with fraud for the (purportedly) technical violation of failing to file Section 16(a) reports regarding the CEO’s stock transactions and holdings in a timely and accurate manner.
  • In the Matter of CMKM Diamonds, Inc., Initial Decision Rel. No. 291 (July 12, 2005) and related matters from 2004 - 2016. First-chair of litigated administrative proceeding that successfully persuaded the Administrative Law Judge that de-registration of all of CMKM Diamonds’ stock was in the public interest. The SEC subsequently filed a successful civil injunctive action against fourteen defendants in connection with CMKM Diamonds’ penny stock fraud. In aggregate, the court ordered the defendants to pay over $70 million in disgorgement and penalties. The criminal trial is scheduled for late Summer 2016.
  • SEC v. Banc de Binary Ltd. et al., Lit. Rel. No. 22767 (Aug. 1, 2013). First SEC action involving unregistered “binary options” illegally sold to U.S. investors over the Internet from foreign countries (in this case, Cyprus and Israel). In granting the SEC’s motion for a preliminary injunction, the court concluded – in the first published opinion on point – that binary options are “securities” subject to the SEC’s regulation.
  • SEC v. Horizon Property Holdings, L.C., et al., Lit. Rel. No. 21088 (June 17, 2009). Ponzi scheme where poor, immigrant investors were tricked by defendants’ promises to rescue the investors’ homes from foreclosure. Following criminal prosecution, the defendants pled guilty, were ordered to pay more than $5.1 million in restitution, and were sentenced to five years in prison.
  • In the Matter of Scott Monson, Initial Decision Rel. No. 331 (June 15, 2007). Co-chair of litigated administrative proceeding regarding a broker-dealer’s general counsel’s liability for firm’s improper market timing and late trading in mutual funds. 
  • In the Matter of Easylink Services Corp., Exch. Act Rel. No. 51506 (April 7, 2005). Financial misstatements case involving the improper accounting of “check swap” barter transactions.
  • SEC v. Kris Klinger, Lit. Rel. No. 18333 (Sept. 9, 2003). Insider-trading case involving bank officer’s misappropriation of confidential information regarding a pending acquisition by the bank’s customer.