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Jay R. Nanavati

Jay R. Nanavati

Jay R. Nanavati



Washington, D.C.
T: 202.875.8000
F: 212.808.8108

Jay R. Nanavati is an accomplished litigator, a former federal tax prosecutor, and a founding partner of Kostelanetz & Fink’s Washington, D.C., office. He has developed an enviable record of success in persuading the government to terminate investigations of his clients and in defeating the government in court.

Mr. Nanavati maintains a nationwide practice, focusing on white-collar criminal defense with an emphasis on tax-related matters. He represents individuals and entities facing investigations and prosecutions by the IRS, the FBI, state investigative agencies, U.S. Attorney’s offices, and the Department of Justice Tax Division. His clients rely on his ability to analyze cases from the government’s perspective and trust his sound judgment to guide them through their most difficult challenges.

Mr. Nanavati spent more than a decade as both a federal and a state prosecutor. He supervised more than 30 federal tax prosecutors and oversaw criminal tax enforcement for a region covering 22 states. He is a veteran trial lawyer, having conducted dozens of jury trials and hundreds of bench trials.

Mr. Nanavati is a Fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel, a member of the ABA’s Section of Taxation, Civil and Criminal Tax Penalties Committee, as well as of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section, White Collar Crime Committee, and a member of the Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court.

From 2013 to 2016, Mr. Nanavati assisted the White House Office of Presidential Personnel in a pro bono capacity by vetting potential presidential appointees for possible tax-related problems.

J.D., University of Virginia School of Law, 1999, Order of the Coif, Virginia Law Review

B.A., Government and Foreign Affairs, University of Virginia, 1996, high honors, Phi Beta Kappa, Echols Scholar

District of Columbia


U.S. Tax Court

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

  • Represented Paul J. Manafort in prosecution by the U.S. Office of the Special Counsel in United States v. Paul J. Manafort, on charges involving allegations of the use of offshore bank accounts to commit tax fraud.
  • Achieved a rare acquittal for a business owner in a federal tax fraud conspiracy jury trial after four weeks of government evidence and 117 government witnesses. The government was represented by a team of three attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice Tax Division.
  • Obtained dismissal before trial of all 53 counts of federal mail fraud, money laundering, conspiracy, and criminal forfeiture, in a case that the FBI, IRS-CI, and the U.S. Attorney’s office had spent five years investigating and prosecuting.
  • Represented a multinational financial institution facing a federal grand jury investigation for allegedly assisting U.S. taxpayers in evading their U.S. tax obligations.
  • Persuaded IRS-CI to terminate an investigation of the owner of a tax return preparation business for allegedly preparing false tax returns.
  • Persuaded a U.S. Attorney’s office to terminate an investigation of a business owner who failed to report large amounts of income. During the subsequent IRS audit of the client, persuaded the IRS to drop civil fraud penalties.
  • Avoided criminal prosecution and substantial civil tax penalties for a U.S. expatriate residing in Europe. The IRS’s audit related to the client’s use of a Panama foundation, a Seychelles international business company, and a Cyprus bank account.
  • Persuaded a U.S. Attorney’s office to cease a grand jury investigation of a client whose name was one of the first that UBS turned over to the Department of Justice in 2009 pursuant to its landmark deferred prosecution agreement. During the subsequent IRS audit of the client, persuaded the IRS not to pursue substantial “FBAR” and fraud penalties.
  • Represented a businessman facing a federal grand jury investigation for the felonies of tax evasion and structuring cash transactions. Persuaded the U.S. Attorney’s office to abandon the felony charges and bring only a single charge of misdemeanor failure to file a tax return.
  • Represented the owner of a healthcare company who was indicted by state authorities for multiple felonies arising from an alleged failure to pay employment taxes. Negotiated the reduction of felony charges to misdemeanor charges.
  • Persuaded a U.S. Attorney’s office not to indict a client, a CPA who was suspected of structuring currency transactions to evade the requirement to file with the IRS Form 8300, Report of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business.
  • Department of Justice Tax Division
    • Assistant Chief for the Western Criminal Enforcement Section
    • Counsel to the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Criminal Matters
    • Trial Attorney
  • Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County, Virginia
  • Law Clerk for Chief Judge Hector M. Laffitte of the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
  • Panelist, The U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020: Strengthening AML Enforcement Abroad While Closing Loopholes at Home, Bahamas Financial Services Board, June 2021
  • Panelist, PPP Loan Fraud, Quinnipiac University’s 4th Annual Criminal Tax Day, June 2021
  • Featured Speaker, There’s A Perfectly Reasonable Explanation For That, Financial Crimes – Dirty Money Stories Podcast, May 2021
  • Speaker, Anti-Money Laundering and Sanctions Enforcement, Bahamas Financial Services Board, Nassau, Bahamas, November 2020
  • Panelist, Financial Crimes Enforcement, Compliance and Risk Mitigation Workshop, Bahamas Financial Services Board, Nassau, Bahamas, February 2020
  • Panelist, A World of Lies: The Truth Behind the Tax Protestor Arguments, 3rd Annual Criminal Tax Day, North Haven, Connecticut, May 2019
  • Panelist, Technology in Tax Enforcement, 43rd Annual Tax Law Conference, Washington, D.C., March 2019
  • Speaker, Global Tax Enforcement: Compliance and Risk Mitigation (Part II), Bahamas Financial Services Board, Nassau, Bahamas, November 2018
  • Panelist, Global Tax Enforcement: Compliance & Risk Mitigation, Bahamas Financial Services Board and Association of International Banks & Trust Companies, Nassau, Bahamas, November 2017
  • Moderator, Civil and Criminal International Tax Enforcement Update, Paramus, New Jersey, June 2017
  • Panelist, Nuts and Bolts of Criminal Tax, ABA Tax Section Mid-Year Meeting, Orlando, Florida, January 2017
  • Panelist, Top Tips for Criminal Tax Cases, ABA Criminal Tax Fraud and Tax Controversy Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada, December 2016
  • Panelist, The United States as a Potential Tax Haven: Foreign Assets and Potential Money Laundering Exposures for Lawyers and Other Gatekeepers, White Collar Practice Seminar, Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 2016
  • Speaker, Civil and Criminal Enforcement of Employment Tax Laws, Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants, Richmond, Virginia, September 2016
  • Speaker, The Role of Legal Privileges in Sensitive IRS Examinations, Virginia Society of Enrolled Agents, Richmond, Virginia, August 2016
  • Speaker, Global Tax Enforcement in 2015, Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants, Richmond, Virginia, December 2015
  • Panelist, Disclosure In a Criminal Prosecution: Are You Getting What You Should Have?, ABA Tax Section’s National Institute on Criminal Tax Fraud & Tax Controversy, Las Vegas, Nevada, December 2015
  • Moderator, Foreign Bank Accounts and “Black Money” – Recent Legal Developments in the U.S. and India on Foreign Account Tax Compliance (FATCA), Corruption, and Offshore Accounts, U.S. India Business Council, Washington, D.C., June 2015
  • Panelist, The U.S. Government’s Global Crackdown on Tax Evasion: Where It Has Been and Where It Is Going, Orlando, Florida, June 2015
  • American Bar Association Section of Taxation
    • Civil and Criminal Tax Penalties Committee
  • American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section
    • White Collar Crime Committee
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Federal Bar Association: Taxation Section, Criminal Law Section
  • Community Tax Law Project
    • Board Member
  • Global Tax Enforcement In 2016: What You Need to Know, Law360 (January 6, 2016)
  • The IRS Turns Up the Heat on Hedge Fund-Backed Reinsurance, JD Supra (June 10, 2015)
  • DOJ And IRS Use “Carrot ‘n Stick” To Enforce Global Tax Laws, American Bar Association (Summer 2014)
  • The 2013 U.S. Department of Justice Program for Swiss Banks – No Easy Choices, Journal of Taxation and Regulation of Financial Institutions (January/February 2014)
  • FCPA and FATCA: The Odd Couple of Anti-Corruption, Tax Notes (2013)
  • Compete or Enforce, Business Crimes Bulletin (2013)
  • Why Holders of Foreign Bank Accounts Need to Worry About IRS’s Voluntary Disclosure Data-Mining Program, Bloomberg BNA Daily Tax Report (August 28, 2012)
  • Super Lawyers, Top Rated White Collar Crime Attorney in Washington, DC (2019, 2020, 2021)
  • Chambers USA: Nationwide Tax Fraud (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
  • American College of Tax Counsel: Fellow
  • Martindale-Hubbell: AV Preeminent
  • Department of Justice Tax Division
    • Outstanding Attorney Award (2009, 2010)
    • Special Commendation Award (2008)
    • Special Act or Service Award (2007)
  • Edward Bennett Williams Inn of Court: Barrister