On May 15, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Preet Bharara to become the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Mr. Bharara’s nomination was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 7, 2009, and he was sworn in on August 13, 2009.
As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Bharara oversees the investigation and litigation of all criminal and civil cases brought on behalf of the United States in the Southern District of New York, which encompasses New York, Bronx, Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Sullivan counties. He supervises an office of more than 220 Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who handle a high volume of cases that include domestic and international terrorism, narcotics and arms trafficking, white collar crime, public corruption, gang violence, organized crime, and civil rights violations.
As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Bharara has applied renewed focus on large-scale, sophisticated financial frauds by creating two new units – the Complex Frauds Unit and the complementary Civil Frauds Unit. The Civil Frauds Unit has collected close to $500 million in settlements since its inception, including multi-million dollar settlements with Deutsche Bank and CitiMortgage for faulty lending practices and other fraudulent conduct.
In addition to prosecuting financial fraud, the Complex Frauds Unit is tasked with addressing the threat of cybercrime and has prosecuted core members of the computer hacking groups, LulzSec and Anonymous. Together with the FBI, the office also recently announced the largest international takedown of defendants allegedly engaged in the theft of personal identification information and other crimes over the Internet.
Recognizing the growing nexus between international narcotics trafficking and terrorism, Mr. Bharara merged two previously independent units to form the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit. The Unit works closely with partner agencies and international law enforcement, and is responsible for prosecuting leaders and associates of organizations that engage in transnational acts of terrorism, narco-terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and money laundering.
Under Mr. Bharara’s supervision, the office continues to combat corruption in city and state government. The office remains at the forefront of prosecuting corruption in Albany and at the local level, bringing charges and securing convictions against multiple elected officials and other corrupt public servants. The office also has prosecuted more than 500 members and associates of various gangs operating in the Bronx, Newburgh, Yonkers and other areas in an effort to make communities in the Southern District safer for residents.
Since Mr. Bharara’s appointment as U.S. Attorney, the office successfully extradited and prosecuted one of the most notorious arms traffickers in the world, Viktor Bout, who is now serving a 25-year sentence. The office also obtained a life sentence for Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, and for one of the Al Qaeda plotters of the 1998 bombings of two American embassies in East Africa. In addition, the office has convicted scores of insider trading defendants, including Raj Rajaratnam, who was sentenced to 11 years, and Rajat Gupta.
The office recently secured the guilty plea of Peter Madoff for his role in his brother Bernard’s Ponzi scheme that included an agreement to a 10-year sentence, the statutory maximum. Together with the Madoff trustee, the office also achieved the largest forfeiture in U.S. history – $7.2 billion from the estate of Jeffrey Picower.
Mr. Bharara recently concluded a two-year term as a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and as Chair of its Subcommittee on White Collar Fraud. He is Co-Chair of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group of the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
Prior to becoming the U.S. Attorney, Mr. Bharara served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts. During his tenure, he helped to lead the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation of the firing of United States Attorneys.
From 2000 to 2005, Mr. Bharara served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted a wide range of cases involving organized crime, racketeering, securities fraud, money laundering, narcotics trafficking, and other crimes.
Mr. Bharara was a litigation associate in New York at Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman from 1996 to 2000 and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher from 1993 to 1996. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with an A.B. in Government in 1990, and from Columbia Law School with a J.D. in 1993, where he was a member of the Columbia Law Review.