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Department of Justice loses Kovacev to Steptoe & Johnson

Rob Kovacev is leaving the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Tax Division, where he was a senior litigation counsel, to become a partner of Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, DC.

At the DOJ, Kovacev was lead trial counsel in several complex tax cases where between $10 million and more than $1 billion was at stake. These included cross-border transactions, Section 482 (transfer pricing) disputes, claims for research credits and foreign tax credits, corporate reorganisations and acquisitions, and valuation of pharmaceutical patents and other intellectual property. He was also lead counsel in several summons enforcement matters of the highest priority to the IRS.

For example, Kovacev was lead trial counsel for the US in AWG Leasing, involving a cross-border leveraged leasing transaction, where the court disallowed over $100 million in tax benefits from that transaction, and sustained the IRS’s determination of penalties against the taxpayer. He was also on the trial team for the Southgate Master Fund case, in which the court disallowed the taxpayer’s claim for more than $1 billion in tax benefits arising from a distressed debt transaction based on the court’s interpretation of the sham partnership doctrine.

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