N.Y. Attorney General Announces Newly Formed Financial Crimes Bureau, Appoints Its New Chief

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New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently announced the establishment of a new Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau and the appointment of a veteran financial crimes prosecutor, Gary Fishman, as its chief. The new bureau, which expands the Attorney General's former Criminal Prosecution Bureau, will focus on prosecuting complex and large-scale financial crimes.

According to Mr. Schneiderman's announcement, the reorganization will focus on combatting crimes in the banking and mortgage sectors, as well as other typical "white collar" crimes, such as securities and investment fraud, money laundering, tax crimes, and insurance fraud. The Attorney General stated that the newly created bureau "will ferret out the bad actors in our critically important financial sector in order to protect our economy and investors. Financial industry leaders who play by the rules deserve a level playing field, and those bad actors who seek to take advantage of their competitors and their neighbors must be stopped and punished."

The new bureau also will form a Financial Intelligence Section. The Attorney General explained that its purpose will be "to initiate investigations into illicit financial activities and track the flow of suspicious funds by reviewing banking, regulatory, law enforcement, and open-source data to identify trends that will enhance the investigation and prosecution of financial crime schemes."

The new head of the bureau, Mr. Fishman, has almost 20 years of experience as a prosecutor. He joined the Attorney General's Office in 2012, serving as Senior Investigative Counsel to the Division of Criminal Justice. Previously, he was the managing director of a private investigatory firm, where he conducted and supervised complex investigations on behalf of institutional clients. He also was a 15-year prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, where he served as the Principal Deputy Chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau.

Attorney General Schneiderman's creation of this bureau, headed by a seasoned white-collar prosecutor, is a major commitment to enhanced criminal investigation and enforcement in the financial industry under New York state laws and regulations. This focus may be especially significant for the banking and financing industries, particularly in the mortgage sector, all of which have extensive activities in New York. Banks, lenders, mortgage servicers, and other financial institutions, as well as their officers and executives, may be subjected to heightened scrutiny in New York in the coming days.