Skadden recently welcomed partners to its private equity, international arbitration, litigation and government enforcement and white collar crime practices.
Nicola Di Giovanni Joins Skadden in Paris
Nicola Di Giovanni has joined Skadden as a partner in our Paris office. Nicola’s practice focuses on domestic and cross-border private equity matters, advising investment funds, family offices and industrial companies on acquisitions, buyouts and joint ventures. Nicola is fluent in French, English and Italian.
Armand Grumberg, head of Skadden’s Paris office and the firm’s European M&A practice, said, “We are extremely excited that Nicola has joined us. Developing the private equity practice in our Paris office is a strategic objective of the firm, and Nicola’s addition to our team aligns with strong demand in this area from our clients.”
Richard Youle, co-head of Skadden’s Private Equity Group, said, “We have one of a small number of leading private equity practices in the U.K. and Germany, and Nicola’s arrival in Paris is a strategic next step in the expansion of our pan-European offerings. I know that he will be a fantastic fit for both our clients and the firm.”
Kate Davies KC Joins International Litigation and Arbitration Group in London
Kate Davies KC has joined the firm’s International Litigation and Arbitration Group as a partner in the London office.
She has extensive experience in both international commercial and investment treaty arbitration, and her practice focuses on complex, high-value disputes. Ms. Davies, who is currently ranked as a leading individual in Legal 500 UK 2022, was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2022.
David Kavanagh KC, global co-head of Skadden’s International Litigation and Arbitration Group, said, “Kate’s advocacy skills are a perfect fit with our leading practice. Our clients will benefit from her experience working on complex cross-border disputes, across numerous sectors, such as life sciences and technology, media and telecom. Kate will play a significant role in the continued success of our practice.”
Former FinCEN Enforcement Head Alessio Evangelista Joins Skadden in Washington, D.C.
Alessio D. Evangelista, most recently head of enforcement and compliance at the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), has joined the firm as a litigation partner in our Washington, D.C. office. He will advise financial services clients — ranging from banks and investment management companies to fintech companies and digital assets businesses — on investigations, enforcement and compliance matters. He also will counsel clients on anti-money laundering (AML), sanctions and other related issues.
From 2020-22, Mr. Evangelista served as associate director for Enforcement and Compliance at FinCEN, where he oversaw the enforcement of AML laws and regulations as applied to traditional financial institutions and fintech firms, including those managing cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. When FinCEN was granted sweeping new regulatory and enforcement authority with the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, Mr. Evangelista led the reorganization of the agency’s Enforcement and Compliance Division, including the creation of a new enforcement section focused on cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. He also began implementing the AML Act’s significantly enhanced whistleblower award provisions by creating FinCEN’s first Office of the Whistleblower and hiring its first director.
Prior to joining FinCEN, Mr. Evangelista was the second-ranking official at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the largest U.S. Attorney’s Office in the country, where he also served as an assistant U.S. attorney for 12 years. During his tenure at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Evangelista created a new Threat Finance Unit, supervised several groundbreaking cases involving cryptocurrency-related crime, and personally investigated and prosecuted a wide range of cases, from bribery and visa fraud, to export control violations, internal money laundering and sanctions evasion. In 2016-17, Mr. Evangelista served as deputy chief of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Bank Integrity Unit, where he supervised sanctions, money laundering and corruption investigations involving financial institutions and their senior executives and employees, including cross-border investigations of two global banks, each of which was resolved with agreements requiring the banks to pay and forfeit more than $1 billion. While at the DOJ and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mr. Evangelista frequently worked with senior regulators and enforcement officials throughout the government, including the departments of State, Commerce and the Treasury, and with the intelligence community. Additionally, Mr. Evangelista has significant trial experience. He has tried more than 50 cases to verdict —including 19 jury trials — and has argued numerous appeals.
“Compliance and enforcement issues involving banks and fintech firms, including companies that manage cryptocurrencies and other digital assets, have significantly increased over the last several years, and high levels of activity in this area are expected to continue,” said Washington, D.C. office leader Jessica Hough. “Alessio’s deep knowledge of the financial services compliance and enforcement landscape, coupled with his recent experience as a regulator and a prosecutor, will enable him to provide sound guidance to our clients.”
“I look forward to working alongside the many Skadden attorneys I have sat across the table from and hold in the highest regard,” said Mr. Evangelista. “Skadden’s global financial services and cross-border investigation capabilities are best-in-class. I look forward to assisting our clients as they navigate emerging challenges in this evolving area.”
Before joining the DOJ in 2004, Mr. Evangelista advised companies and individuals in white collar criminal matters and complex commercial litigation at two law firms in Washington, D.C. Prior to private practice, Mr. Evangelista clerked for Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Mr. Evangelista earned his law degree, summa cum laude, from Syracuse University College of Law and his bachelor’s degree in economics from the State University of New York at Geneseo.
EDNY Federal Prosecutor Maria Cruz Melendez Rejoins Skadden
Maria Cruz Melendez, a former federal criminal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY), has joined the firm’s New York office as a partner in our Government Enforcement and White Collar Crime Group. She will advise corporations and individuals in criminal and civil matters brought by U.S. federal and state authorities. She also will handle domestic and cross-border investigations and civil and administrative proceedings conducted by the Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission and Office of Foreign Assets Control in connection with U.S. securities laws, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other domestic and international regulatory enforcement matters. In addition, Ms. Cruz Melendez will draw on her law enforcement experience to advise corporations on prevention, oversight and compliance programs designed to address sexual harassment in the workplace and related matters. Prior to joining the EDNY in 2012, Ms. Cruz Melendez was an associate at Skadden for six years.
Most recently, Ms. Cruz Melendez served as deputy chief of the Civil Rights Section of the EDNY, following nearly three years as deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section. She previously served in the General Crimes Section and Organized Crime and Gangs Section and was also appointed as the EDNY’s grand jury coordinator.
During her decade-long tenure at the EDNY, Ms. Cruz Melendez investigated, prosecuted and supervised several high-profile cases, including a long-running investigation that culminated in last year’s six-week trial and conviction of the entertainer known as R. Kelly for racketeering and other crimes related to criminal abuse of women and children. She also handled significant cases involving fraud, corruption and the abuse of power, including the conviction of an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn for illegal wiretapping; an official in the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office for theft and embezzlement; various parties charged with a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme; and former executives of the Central United Talmudic Academy for the theft of millions of dollars from a federal school meal program.
Ms. Cruz Melendez also has prosecuted multiple organized crime cases, securing the conviction of members of La Cosa Nostra, including the Lucchese and Bonanno crime families, and successfully opposing a request for a sentence reduction for Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, who testified against former Gambino family crime boss John Gotti. Ms. Cruz Melendez also obtained the conviction of the mastermind of a 1979 bus ambush in Puerto Rico that resulted in the murder and serious injury of multiple U.S. Navy service members. While at the EDNY, Ms. Cruz Melendez also represented the government on numerous appeals before the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“We are thrilled to welcome Maria back to the firm,” said David Meister, head of Skadden’s Government Enforcement and White Collar Crime Group in New York. “Throughout her career, Maria has distinguished herself as a creative and tenacious advocate who engenders the confidence of clients and colleagues. These qualities, along with her significant experience as a prosecutor, make her an ideal fit for our practice.”
Ms. Cruz Melendez is a vocal proponent of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), leading the EDNY to more directly address issues of underrepresentation through the creation of a formal committee dedicated to DEI issues. She subsequently served as co-chair of the EDNY’s Diversity Committee and a member of the EDNY’s Hiring Committee.
Ms. Cruz Melendez said, “Rejoining Skadden offers me an opportunity to utilize my prior experience both at the firm and as a prosecutor to help clients navigate their most significant legal challenges. Additionally, the firm’s long-standing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion aligns with my values, and I am eager to continue my work in this critically important area.”
Ms. Cruz Melendez graduated magna cum laude from Notre Dame Law School, where she served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Legislation. She earned a B.A. degree, cum laude, from Harvard University.