Posted by: nastylittletruths | February 23, 2012

If Only…

Here’s some interesting reading after the Carnival cool down… Yes, they have the staff and yes they have a budget, but once political will is there, nothing is impossible. And like the man said – having a budget of US$50m and forfeiting assets worth US$642m is a very good return on the investment.

Had to love the part about keeping government honest though… And if you are wondering why I highlighted the 20 months – check from May 2010 to now…

Prepared Remarks of U.S.Attorney Preet Bharara 

CUNY School of Journalism,New York,New York –

June 6, 2011

 Now let me mention three more specific things about our Office’s culture and tradition, which may inform how you think about and cover our Office.   First, we espouse an ethic of fearlessness.  If we have the law and the facts on our side, we are intimidated by no one, and we discharge our duties, as our oath provides, “without fear or favor.”

 We believe that no one is above the law, no matter who you are or how much money you have – we are, and have always been, prepared to pursue anyone who has clearly broken the law; and it doesn’t matter whether it is al Qaeda or al Shabab; the Gambino crime family or the Sinaloa cartel; whether it is a state senator or a member of Congress.   And the same is true for any financial institution, no matter how large or how lucrative.   If you have broken the law and we believe we can prove it to a unanimous jury beyond a reasonable doubt, we will bring the case.  But if we cannot, we will walk away.

 Let me begin by spending a few minutes describing my office and its mission.  Some of you here cover us every day and so you know much of this, but since most of you are not part of the courthouse crowd and I have you captive, it is worth my while – and hopefully yours – for me to explain a bit about us and how we do business – about our organization, our ethic, and our approach.

 The more than 230 AUSA’s in my Office handle the most diverse and high-profile docket in the country.   And while we have in recent times successfully pursued substantial insider trading cases, it is far from the only thing we do; and it is not the most important thing we do.  Our first priority – especially since 9/11 – is of course, protecting Americans from the threat of terrorism, whether homegrown or foreign-based.  And so,  since I took office in August 2009, we have continued to work tirelessly not only to keep our markets fair, but also to keep our homeland secure, our streets safe, and our government honest.

 While we have charged almost 50 defendants with insider trading alone in the 20 months since Raj Rajaratnam was arrested, we have been just as busy charging more than 2,000 other defendants and enforcing all the other laws in our mandate.

 In those 20 months, we have, among many other things: 

   Sent Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, to prison, for life;

   Sent Ahmed Ghailani, a mass murderer of innocents in Africa, to prison, for life;

   Convicted four men of plotting to blow up a synagogue, in Riverdale;

   Convicted Afia Siddiqui of attempting to kill American servicemen, in Afghanistan;

    Charged two Brooklyn men with providing material support to al Qaeda; 

   Charged three men with narco-terrorism in connection with al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb;

   Convicted the first pirate in modern times, rounded up a ring of Russian spies, and prepared the indictment of Khalid Sheik Mohammad and four others for the attacks of 9/11, though that plan changed.

   Also in the last 20 months, we have been more aggressive and active on corruption in Albany than any other prosecutor’s office in New York– current and former elected state officials we have charged recently include Senator Vincent Leibell, Senator Hiram Monserrate, Senator Carl Kruger, and Assemblyman William Boyland.  

    In addition, we brought corruption charges against New York City Councilman Larry Seabrook and Yonkers City Councilwoman Sandy Annabi; 

   We arrested a group of people in connection with the still-developing $700 million City Time payroll scandal;

   We participated in one of the largest organized crime takedowns in history;

   We charged the largest Medicare fraud perpetrated by a single criminal organization in history;

   We conducted the largest criminal sweep of gangs in Newburgh,New York, in history – a place where children are literally dying in the streets because of the scourge of the Bloods and Latin Kings;

   We extradited one of the most notorious alleged arms traffickers in the world, Viktor Bout of Russia, and one of the most prolific alleged narcotics traffickers in this hemisphere, Christopher Coke of Jamaica; 

   We obtained the conviction of top Democratic fundraiser, Hassan Nemazee;

  the conviction of former Police Commissioner, Bernard Kerik; 

  the conviction of celebrity investment adviser, Kenneth Starr;

  the conviction of Park Avenue Bank President, Charles Antonucci; 

  the conviction of former Duane Reade CEO, Anthony Cuti; and,

  the conviction of former BDO Seidman CEO, Dennis Field, and three others

in a seven-billion tax shelter fraud;

   We charged a long-running and massive $42 million fraud on the Holocaust victims’ claims fund;

   Secured a $554 million settlement for fraudulent tax shelters by Deutsche Bank;

   Charged seven Americans with hiding over $100 million in secret Swiss bank accounts at UBS to avoid paying taxes;

   Charged a total of 105 individuals with mortgage fraud; 

   And, we brought the most sweeping Justice Department lawsuit to date over reckless lending practices by a major financial institution, Deutsche Bank;

   We achieved, together with the Madoff Trustee, the largest forfeiture inU.S.history – a $7.2 billion settlement with the estate of Jeffrey Picower – $2.2 billion of which is a direct result of my Office’s efforts.

And by the way, even completely setting aside the Picower forfeiture, in the fiscal year to date, our Office has forfeited or reached agreements to forfeit more than $642 million, more than half of the total across the entire Department of Justice.  With an annual budget of approximately $50 million, this means that right now our Office has already recovered more than 12 times the amount of money it is spending.  It might be of interest to a roomful of financial writers that this Office delivers such a return on taxpayers’ investment.  Better than some hedge funds, if I’m not mistaken.  

And all this is just what is public; necessarily invisible are all the ongoing investigations and inquiries that are churning away in every area – public corruption, terrorism, drugs, organized crime, and securities fraud.

Full speech can be found here: http://www.businessweek.com/bschools/blogs/mba_admissions/Bharara.pdf

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