Financial wrongdoing target for New York Attorney General

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Jan 17, 2014 11:12 PM EST

Eric Schneiderman, the Attorney General of New York, has increased the scope of its existing criminal bureau so it can look into financial wrongdoing a couple of years after a regulator was created by Governor Andrew Cuomo which bore a similar mandate, Bloomberg reported.

In a statement, the Office of the Attorney General said the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau will be headed by a former state prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, Gary Fishman. The office expands the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, the report said.

In the statement, Schneiderman said, "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."

Since the financial crisis, New York has ramped up its efforts to enforce market rules. Four years ago, a major economic crimes unit was established by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Fishman served as the Principal Deputy Chief of that unit. In 2011, Cuomo combined the state insurance and banking regulators into the Department of Financial Services. This was headed by Benjamin Lawsky who was a top prosecutor when Cuomo served as the Attorney General, the report said.

In 2012, Fishman became part of Schneiderman's office where he served as senior investigative counsel to the Division of Criminal Justice. He led the investigation concerning the theft of charitable funds in the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, the report said.

The focus of the new bureau will be to investigate complex financial crimes involving banks and other financial institutions. It will also look into securities and investment fraud, mortgage fraud, investment schemes, insurance fraud and money laundering activities. The statement said the expanded bureau will conduct probes on "illicit financial activities" and monitor the flow of questionable funds to look for trends and aid investigators, Bloomberg reported.

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