Adriaen M. Morse Jr.


Direct: 202.677.4058
Fax: 202.677.4059
1775 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Suite 1000
Washington, District of Columbia 20006


Adriaen is a partner in the Litigation, Securities Enforcement, and Government Investigations & White Collar Crime practices. He focuses his practice on government investigations, criminal prosecutions, internal compliance issues, and a wide variety of other high-stakes litigation matters both in the United States and globally. As former Senior Counsel at the Division of Enforcement of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Adriaen employs the critical judgment, relevant knowledge, and practical skills learned from his time as a government enforcement attorney to defend clients embroiled in investigations and litigation brought by the SEC, Department of Justice (DOJ), and other federal agencies.

Adriaen represents public companies, financial services firms, accounting firms, and individuals. He has an extensive background in global anti-corruption compliance and investigations, addressing issues in the context of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), UK Bribery Act, France’s Loi Sapin II, and other anti-corruption measures for companies with global operations. In addition, clients rely on Adriaen in connection with regulatory issues involving digital tokens and the blockchain industry, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) investigations and arbitrations, and state securities industry regulatory inquiries. Adriaen has also advised and defended clients involved in federal and state False Claims Act investigations and litigation. He has represented executives and corporations as a partner at international law firms as well as leading the litigation and compliance departments of Fortune 200 public companies as chief litigation counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer. Adriaen provides clients contending with government investigations a course of action to avoid litigation and win at trial by developing a legal strategy driven by his experience advising board of directors and public company management.

Proudly serving his country as a U.S. Marine, Adriaen was an infantry platoon commander and then a judge advocate prior to entering private practice. Born in Belgium and raised abroad in a Foreign Service family, Adriaen’s background encompasses diverse cultures and modes of thinking, directly informing his counseling strategies and, in particular, his understanding of the particular needs of global companies with diverse workforces.


  • Represented a cryptocurrency producer in the planning and initiation stage of developing a digital token and associated platform.

  • Represented a former C-suite executive of a pharmaceutical manufacturer in an SEC investigation into potential accounting issues involving contracts in China.

  • Represented the former VP of operations for a software manufacturer in an SEC investigation into the accounting for certain software sales.

    • Represented the chairman of Royal Dutch Shell’s Committee of Managing Directors in joint investigations by the DOJ, SEC, and UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) and private securities class action litigation related to a significant restatement of Shell’s proved oil and gas reserves and the company’s settlement to securities fraud charges in the U.S. and market abuse in the U.K.; no charges were filed in any jurisdiction against the client and the client was dismissed from the class action cases.
    • Conducted an internal investigation into allegations of FCPA fraud and bid-rigging by a foreign subsidiary of a major corporation; implemented remedial measures and appropriately addressed inappropriate conduct by certain employees.
    • Represented the lead audit partner of a Big Four accounting firm in an SEC investigation into the audit of a large global banking firm’s accounting treatment of certain entities and instruments involving the Argentine financial crisis of 2001; no claims were filed against the client.
    • Represented the independent consultant for UBS AG in a DOJ Non-Prosecution Agreement and SEC Cease and Desist Order to ensure that UBS executed on undertakings to discontinue providing prohibited services to US taxpayers.
    • Successfully concluded a multi-year DOJ investigation involving criminal allegations of multi-million dollar kickbacks, bribes, and false claims that ended in a small, civil settlement.
  • Represented the chief executive officer of a US-based oil drilling company in a joint DOJ and SEC FCPA investigation into payments made by the company in connection with its operations in Africa and South America.

    • Represented an officer of an Ecuadoran subsidiary of a Swiss company with significant US operations in a joint DOJ and SEC FCPA investigation into payments made by the subsidiary in connection with the award of a major government contract in Ecuador; no charges were brought against the client.
  • Represented the chief compliance officer of the broker-dealer subsidiary of a major financial services firm in a FINRA investigation involving late trading and market timing allegations.

  • Met with Department of Defense suspension and debarment officials and persuaded them that a client was a “responsible government contractor” following the announcement of a securities fraud settlement with the SEC.

    • Represented an assistant general counsel of a regional broker-dealer in a FINRA investigation into sales practices involving variable annuities; no charges were brought against the client.


  • Georgetown University Law Center, Master of Laws — 2003,
    with Distinction
  • University of Richmond School of Law, Juris Doctor — 1995,
    cum laude
  • United States Naval Academy, Bachelor of Science — 1988,
    with Merit
  • District of Columbia
  • State of California
  • Commonwealth of Virginia
  • United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of California
  • United States District Court for the District of Columbia
  • United States District Court for the District of Maryland
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia
    • American Bar Association
    • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
    • Association of SEC Alumni
    • DC Bar Association, CLE Committee
  • French
  • Italian


  • SEC: Director’s Award
  • USMC: Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon
  • U.S. Naval Academy: varsity ice hockey (letterman) and President, French Club
  • AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings


SECIL Blog – Securities Enforcement Compliance Investigations & Litigation blog will provide helpful information for clients dealing with SEC issues in our “About the Law” page. We also discuss current and ongoing issues in our blog, “SEC Target,” where we draw on our insights and experience to discuss the latest issues in securities law and SEC enforcement initiatives, from analysis of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases to the latest regulatory trends by the SEC, FINRA, and others.