Steven Welk, a former assistant US attorney, is widely recognized for his experience in federal asset forfeiture and money laundering law and practice in the United States. He represents individuals and corporations in white-collar criminal defense matters, with an emphasis on matters involving alleged financial crimes, domestic and international money laundering, kleptocracy, large-scale fraud, and RICO violations.
Prior to joining Steptoe, Steve was chief of the Asset Forfeiture Section of the United States Attorney's Office for the Central District of California (Criminal Division), where he managed an average annual case load of approximately 400 cases. As an assistant US attorney, he participated in approximately 25 federal jury and bench trials and briefed more than 35 appeals before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing 19 of those. As section chief, he acted as brief reviewer for approximately 40 additional appeals.
As a federal prosecutor, Steve's notable work included the 2020 1MDB kleptocracy cases, in which he led the litigation team that investigated, orchestrated, and completed the seizure and forfeiture of more than $1.4 billion dollars' worth of cash, real estate, and personal property located in the United States and abroad, traceable to the looting of the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund. The 1MDB recoveries are the largest in the history of the department's Kleptocracy Program. Steve was also lead counsel in the government's successful prosecution of United States v. Mongol Nation, obtaining guilty verdicts on all counts following a two-and-a-half-month jury trial of substantive RICO and RICO conspiracy charges against the Mongols outlaw motorcycle gang (OMG), marking the first such conviction of an OMG. He obtained the first-ever jury verdict ordering the criminal forfeiture of an OMG’s rights in its federally registered collective membership marks (name and logo).
Steve also served as a member of the Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture Working Group for more than two decades. As a member of that group, he crafted and implemented government forfeiture and money laundering policy and provided ad hoc guidance to assistant US attorneys working in the Asset Forfeiture Program in the 94 federal districts.
- US District Court, Southern District of California
- US District Court, Central District of California
- US District Court, Northern District of California
- US Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
- J.D., Pepperdine University School of Law, 1990
- B.A., University of Southern California, 1986
News & Publications
September 15, 2021
- Department of Justice John Marshall Award for Asset Forfeiture (2016 and 2020)
- Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys Director's Award for Superior Performance as an AUSA (Criminal) (2020)
- Exceptional Service Award, Department of Justice (Criminal Division) (2020)
- International Prosecution Award, Supreme Prosecutor's Office, Republic of Korea (2017)
- Transnational Prosecution Award, Australian Federal Police (2012)
- Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award (2011)
- Chief, Asset Forfeiture Section, US Attorney's Office, Central District of California (2001-2021)
- Assistant US Attorney, US Attorney’s Office, Central District of California (1995-2021)