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Oct 06

The new Spitzer?

Posted by dbedell in white collar crimeUS AttorneyRisk and CompliancePreet BhararaIn compliancefraudCivil Frauds Unit


Richard Zabel, chief of the criminal division, US Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, made some big announcements Monday at the Practicing Law Institute’s all-day seminar on white collar crime, according to a piece on

The office is pouring more resources into white collar crime investigation and prosecution, according to Zabel. Those resources will be used to dramatically increase the number of prosecutors—to 25—and change divisional foci to look at specific aspects of white collar crimes—such as accounting fraud, complex instruments, insider trading, and Ponzi schemes.

As Zabel said to seminar attendees Monday: ““We have changed the manner of pursuing those cases to be more aggressive and more effective, including more aggressive use of wiretaps.” He added that white collar cases are more difficult because they can wreck havoc on the market and still be difficult to prove.

This is the second big announcement from the southern district US Attorney’s office about beefed up white collar crime resources in the past month. Last month, I reported on Zabel’s boss, Preet Bharara, announcing a new Civil Frauds Unit to prosecute civil cases associated with white collar crime.

Now, I am all for greater investigation of fraud and its sister sins. But all of these announcements do raise a few questions.

With the wealth of resources that the office is pouring into its white collar crime units, is this really just about making up for the lack of prosecutorial success coming out of the crisis and the need for greater checks on corporate misdeed, or is US Attorney Bharara looking to be the next Spitzer? Is New York’s Southern District office looking to make a name for itself by taking down some big-name execs?

If so, lets hope the office’s own increased wiretaps are not used to reveal any nasty secrets, as was poor Mr Spitzer’s fate.



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