Finch to become DOJ’s acting antitrust head, principal deputy

6 April 2017 12:35pm

5 April 2017. By Leah Nylen.

Andrew Finch, a partner at Paul Weiss in New York, will helm the US Department of Justice's antitrust division starting next week until President Donald Trump's pick for the position is confirmed by the Senate.

Once nominee Makan Delrahim has been confirmed to the position, Finch will become the principal deputy, tasked with overseeing cases on which Delrahim is recused — though MLex has learned that those cases won't include Anthem's buy of rival insurer Cigna because of his firm's involvement in the deal.

Finch will take over as acting assistant attorney general on April 10, the DOJ said, relieving Brent Snyder, who has helmed the division in a temporary capacity since Jan. 20.

Finch previously served as a counsel to Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust R. Hewitt Pate from 2003 to 2005, focusing on civil merger and non-merger investigations.

As a partner at Paul Weiss, Finch represented Deutsche Bank in the DOJ's investigations into manipulation of the London interbank offered rate and foreign exchange. He also represented the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, or Ascap, in the review of its consent decree with the DOJ.

He was among a group of lawyers at the firm representing MasterCard both before the DOJ and in class action litigation related to the credit card company's interchange fees.

As acting assistant attorney general, Finch will be responsible for making the final decision on whether to sue or settle in merger and other civil cases and whether to file charges in criminal antitrust cases.

Finch will remain in the post until Delrahim is confirmed by the Senate. The White House announced Trump's intention to nominate Delrahim to the position on March 27, but has yet to formally send his nomination to the Senate. Once that procedural step is finished, Delrahim will need to undergo a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and then a vote before the full chamber. That process generally takes several weeks or months.

After Delrahim takes over, Finch will become the principal deputy assistant attorney general for antitrust, essentially the no. 2 spot within the antitrust division. Although the exact details of his portfolio have yet to be determined, Finch will likely oversee mergers and other civil antitrust cases and take the lead on cases in which Delrahim is recused.

Delrahim is expected to be recused from the Anthem-Cigna case, which is currently on appeal, because of his work as a lobbyist for Anthem. Finch is also not expected to oversee that deal, it is understood, because his firm, Paul Weiss, is representing Cigna. Responsibility for the Anthem-Cigna deal is likely to fall to another deputy assistant attorney general, who is as yet unnamed.

Finch is also unlikely to be able to make a decision on the Justice Department's proposed Supreme Court appeal in the American Express case. The Justice Department challenged American Express rules that prevent merchants from steering customers to cheaper-to-process payment methods. A New York trial judge sided with the enforcers, but the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed that decision in September. Finch represented MasterCard, which settled with the DOJ in 2010, in the investigation.

Hill Wellford, who worked with Finch at the DOJ during the George W. Bush administration, said Finch is "a terrific choice" for principal deputy, known for his "low-key approach and excellent judgment."

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