January 17, 2014 / 8:06 PM / 4 years ago

NY attorney general forms new bureau to combat financial crime

NEW YORK, Jan 17 (Reuters) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has created a new bureau to prosecute large-scale financial crimes.

The newly formed Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau will "ferret out the bad actors in our critically important financial sector in order to protect our economy and investors," Schneiderman said in a statement on Friday.

The unit is a new push by the New York attorney general to criminally punish those behind complex financial crimes. It comes after repeated public criticism that few individuals have been held responsible for misconduct that led to the 2008 financial crisis.

The bureau will tackle crimes in banks and other financial institutions, securities and investment schemes, money laundering, tax crimes, mortgage fraud, and insurance fraud, according to the office.

"We're going to focus not just on institutions but on individuals," Gary Fishman, the newly appointed head of the unit, told Reuters.

Fishman, a veteran prosecutor with more than 15 years experience, joined the attorney general's office in 2012. Before that, he was a deputy in the major economic crimes bureau of the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

A Financial Intelligence Section within the bureau will investigate and track suspicious activity reports and other data released by financial institutions to identify trends.

Schneiderman already has an investor protection bureau that brings civil cases. That unit filed a case against JPMorgan Chase & Co in 2012 over mortgage-backed securities that recently resulted in a payment of more than $600 million as part of the bank's $13 billion settlement with U.S. authorities.

Last year, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance also formed a unit to review suspicious activity reports and other data to find illegal financial activities. (Reporting By Karen Freifeld; Editing by Chris Reese)

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