January 30, 2013 / 2:35 PM / 5 years ago

US Justice Dept's criminal division chief to step down

WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Lanny Breuer, the head of the Justice Department's criminal division, plans to step down on March 1, according to an internal memo.

"As I wrote to the President, and want to tell you, serving as the head of this remarkable Division has been the greatest privilege of my professional life," Breuer said in a memo to criminal division employees dated Tuesday.

Breuer, who previously worked as a defense lawyer and in the Clinton White House, has led the division since 2009.

He faced much criticism for the department's failure to bring major prosecutions against companies and individuals who played a role in the 2007-2009 financial crisis, but also led the division in several record-breaking settlements.

BP Plc agreed in November to pay $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties, the largest in history, on charges related to the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

The London-based bank HSBC Holdings plc also agreed to the largest forfeiture ever in December - $1.25 billion - to resolve charges that it failed to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and let itself be used by major Mexican drug cartels.

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