Jay R. Nanavati

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.

Jay R. Nanavati Representative Matters

  • 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.

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Background and Experience

  • 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

Awards and Recognitions

  • Super Lawyers, Top Rated White Collar Crime Attorney in Washington, DC (2019)
  • Chambers USA: Nationwide Tax Fraud (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019)

  • 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

Speaking Engagements

  • 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

Professional Associations

  • 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

  • Virginia State Bar: Taxation Section, Criminal Law Section
  • Community Tax Law Project

    • Board Member



  • FARA Enforcement Is No Slam Dunk For Prosecutors, Law360 (June 10, 2019)

  • The IRS Whistleblower Regulations: A Hindrance to Tax Enforcement, The CPA Journal (December 2018) 
  • Global Tax Enforcement In 2016: What You Need To Know, Law360 (January 6, 2016)

  • The 2013 U.S. Department of Justice Program for Swiss Banks - No Easy Choices, Journal of Taxation and Regulation of Financial Institutions (Volume 27, Number 03, January/February 2014)

  • DOJ And IRS Use “Carrot ‘n Stick” To Enforce Global Tax Laws, American Bar Association (Summer 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)


Email: JNanavati@kflaw.com

Tel: 202-875-8000





May 05, 2020

Chambers USA Recognizes K&F and Five Attorneys as Leaders in Tax Controversy And White-Collar Defense

April 21, 2020

Caroline Ciraolo and Jay Nanavati Selected as 2020 Washington DC Super Lawyers in Areas of Tax and White-Collar Criminal Defense

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December 04, 2019

Lessons Learned from Getting to Not Guilty

June 10, 2019

FARA Enforcement Is No Slam-Dunk For Prosecutors

View All >


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

Bar Admissions

District of Columbia


U.S. Tax Court

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