Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Judge Leon Enters Prominent NSA Decision (12/17/13)

A DOJ Tax alum has been in the news yesterday, today and presumably for some time in the future.  Richard J. Leon, district court judge in the District of Columbia, entered a decision questioning the constitutionality of the National Security Agency's collection and use of phone records.

According to his court web bio, here, Judge Leon was formerly "Senior Trial Attorney in the Criminal Section of the Tax Division."

For an article on the case, see Charlie Savage, Judge Questions Legality of N.S.A. Phone Records (NYT 12/16/13), here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Rob Kovacev Moves from DOJ Tax to Steptoe & Johnson (12/10/13)

Rob Kovacev has joined Steptoe & Johnson.  See Senior Litigatoin Counsel in Tax Division Joins Steptoe (Main Justice 12/10/13), here.

His bio with the firm is here.  The portions dealing with his Tax Division experience is:
Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Kovacev was a senior litigation counsel in the United States Department of Justice, Tax Division, responsible for litigating some of the largest and most complex civil tax cases in the nation.  In that position, Mr. Kovacev worked closely with the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Large Business & International (LB&I) Division and top management of the Tax Division to shape litigation strategy on high-priority tax enforcement issues.   
Mr. Kovacev was lead trial counsel in several complex tax cases in the pharmaceutical, financial services, energy, and government contracts industries.  These cases involved cross-border transactions, Section 482 disputes, claims for research credits and foreign tax credits, corporate reorganizations and acquisitions, and valuation of pharmaceutical patents and other intellectual property.  The amounts at issue in each of these cases ranged from $10 million to more than $1 billion in claimed tax benefits.  Mr. Kovacev was also lead counsel in several important summons enforcement matters, including the Wells Fargo tax accrual workpapers case. 
Mr. Kovacev developed particular knowledge regarding the IRS’s use of the economic substance, substance over form, and sham partnership doctrines to disallow the tax benefits of transactions that comply with the technical requirements of the tax code.  For example, Mr. Kovacev was lead trial counsel for the United States in AWG Leasing, involving a cross-border leveraged leasing transaction.  The court in AWG Leasing disallowed over $100 million in tax benefits from that transaction, and sustained the IRS’s determination of penalties against the taxpayer.  Mr. Kovacev was also on the trial team for the Southgate Master Fund case, in which the court disallowed more than $1 billion in tax benefits arising from a distressed debt transaction based on the court’s interpretation of the sham partnership doctrine.

  • Recipient of the John Marshall Award, the highest award for trial of litigation given by the Department of Justice, 2009
  • Recognized as Outstanding Attorney by the Department of Justice, Tax Division, 2008, 2009, 2010
  • Recipient of the Mitchell Rogovin Award for providing outstanding support to the Office of Chief Counsel by the IRS, 2009