A former FBI special agent who has tried more than 20 criminal cases in federal court, Brian N. Hayes is an attorney in Holland & Knight's Chicago office and is the leader of the firm's Midwest White Collar Defense and Investigations Practice.

Drawing on his years of leadership in law enforcement and experience as an FBI special agent, Mr. Hayes will confidently provide seasoned advice to boards, audit committees and executive managers in a number of highly regulated industries. His practice focuses on advising organizations and individuals responding to government investigations, conducting internal investigations, and providing guidance on regulatory compliance and complex civil litigation. Mr. Hayes has extensive experience in criminal and regulatory investigations, securities and financial fraud, healthcare fraud, Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and money laundering violations, and cybercrimes.

Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Mr. Hayes was the chief of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois. In that role, he supervised 120 assistant U.S. attorneys in eight criminal prosecution programs, including Public Corruption and Organized Crime, Securities and Commodities Fraud, Financial Crimes, National Security and Cybercrimes, and the Appellate Section. Mr. Hayes approved the investigation, charging, plea and trial strategies for the office's most significant, complicated and high-profile prosecutions. In addition, he communicated on behalf of the U.S. Attorney with the U.S. District Court, U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and management at law enforcement and regulatory agencies such as the FBI, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and U.S. Secret Service.

Mr. Hayes held several other significant positions while at the U.S. Attorney's Office, including chief of Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture, where he served as the U.S. Attorney's subject matter expert on the BSA, anti-money laundering (AML) laws and related financial institution regulations. Mr. Hayes was also chief of the General Crimes section, and deputy chief of Financial Crimes and Special Prosecutions. Mr. Hayes tried more than 20 criminal cases to verdict in federal court, including mail and wire fraud offenses, financial institution fraud, money laundering and identity theft fraud schemes. In addition, he briefed and argued many cases to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney's Office, Mr. Hayes served as a special agent with the FBI in Chicago investigating a variety of federal criminal offenses. Mr. Hayes began his legal career as an assistant district counsel with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service's New York office and was promoted to assistant general counsel in its Washington, D.C., headquarters.

Representative Experience

  • Representing a financial institution in a U.S. Attorney Office's investigation of the adequacy of the bank's Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)/Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance program
  • Represented a target of a U.S. Attorney Office's investigation of a mail and wire fraud scheme; investigation concluded without criminal charges filed
  • Represented an attorney who was the target of an investigation by the IRS-Criminal Investigative Division relating to the attorney’s failure to file income tax returns for several years; investigation was concluded without criminal charges filed
  • Conducted an internal investigation for a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) into a subsidiary's financial relationship with a state legislator
  • Successfully represented client in a dispute with its registered investment advisor over funds stolen by hackers in a business email compromise (BEC) cyber scam, resulting in full repayment of stolen funds to client
  • Defending a real estate management company against qui tam law suit allegation that client violated the False Claims Act (FCA) while providing Section 8 housing to low-income residents through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • Representing a power generation supplier in federal court defending against whistleblower retaliation claims under the Energy Reorganization Act (ERA) and state law
  • Represented a food processing company in response to interrogatories from a state attorney general seeking information relating to compliance with COVID-19 executive orders

  • Led the prosecution of a commercial bribery scheme involving an automobile manufacturer's former global commodity manager for lightweight metals and his co-defendant, the owner of a metals trading firm; while executing the automobile manufacturer's strategy to divest itself of several hundred million pounds of excess bulk aluminum, in exchange for kickbacks totaling approximately $6.5 million – largely directed to Swiss bank accounts – the former manager steered the automobile manufacturer's excess bulk aluminum sales to the co-defendant’s metals trading firm; both defendants were convicted, and millions of dollars in assets were seized from abroad and returned to the automobile manufacturer as restitution
  • Led the prosecution of defendant who fraudulently induced more than 250 victims to invest approximately $12 million in securities issued by his company in a case that proceeded parallel with an U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation
  • Led the prosecution of scheme to defraud an airline committed by its facility maintenance manager at one of its major hubs; five co-defendants conspired with the former airline employee to submit bogus invoices, causing the company to pay more than $7 million for work that had not been performed; all defendants were convicted, and assets seized to provide restitution to the airline included several residences, more than a dozen vehicles, a yacht and valuable jewelry
  • Led the prosecution of the owner of an advisory firm who served as the investment manager for six union pension funds and misappropriated more than $24 million of investors' funds, stolen principally through fraudulently characterized capital calls, in a case that proceeded parallel with an SEC investigation
  • Led the prosecution of a scheme by twin brothers who defrauded a major cellphone carrier by compromising its computer network and fraudulently ordering thousands of cellular telephones on the accounts of existing customers; defendants caused the cellphone carrier to deliver the phones through commercial interstate carriers to defendants and their confederates at dozens of addresses in Illinois, Wisconsin, Georgia and Florida; six defendants convicted, including former cellphone carrier and delivery company employees
  • Prosecuted Taiwanese citizen and his U.S.-resident son for conspiring to obstruct the U.S. Department of the Treasury by impeding enforcement of International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) sanction regulations, after the father and his companies were designated as supporters of North Korea's advanced weapons programs; both defendants convicted after the father was arrested and extradited from Estonia


  • Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude
  • San Jose State University, B.A., Radio, Television and Film
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • California
  • Illinois
  • New York
Court Admissions
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Trial Bar
  • Law360, White Collar Editorial Board, 2021
  • Chicago Bar Association, Financial Institution committee member
  • Federal Bar Association, Chicago Chapter
  • Chicago American Inn of Court
Honors & Awards
  • Holland & Knight Pro Bono All-Star, 2020
  • Chicago Crime Commission Stars of Distinction Criminal Justice Award, 2010


Speaking Engagements