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Have got the world's greatest job, says US legal star Bharara

By Yoshita Singh
November 13, 2013 14:55 IST
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Prominent Indian-American attorney Preet Bharara has no plans to quit as the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan anytime soon as he has the "greatest job in the world" but said he will "walk the earth and get into adventures" whenever he retires.

The Harvard-educated Bharara, seen as among the potential successors to Attorney General Eric Holder, has denied any interest in running for political office and said he will continue working on prosecutorial tools to stop wrongdoing and corrupt practices on Wall Street.

"I am going to do this job as long as I can. I think I have the greatest job not just in the country but in the world. It has been four years and it has been a lot of fun and I am going to do this as long as I can," Bharara, 45, said at the New York Times' Dealbook Conference in New York.

Bharara said he would continue working on "those great and awesome prosecutorial tools" that have helped his office charge some of the most prominent and influential executives on Wall Street with insider trading.

Bharara's office in the Southern District of New York has obtained 75 guilty pleas or convictions out of 83 people charged with insider trading since August 2009, the most prominent among them being India-born former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta and his hedge fund founder billionaire friend Raj Rajaratnam.

Bharara said that when he does retire or gets "kicked out" of his job, he would want to travel the world and meet people.

"I'm going to walk the earth," said Punjab-born Bharara, quoting a dialogue from the movie 'Pulp Fiction'.

"Like Caine in 'Kung Fu'. Go from place to place, meet people, get in adventures. That is what I will do," he said.

In response to another comment that he may not need to work at a high-paying job at a law firm in the private sector, since he is rich enough, Bharara said that he is "not as independently wealthy as any of these people" referring to the scores of business persons, Wall Street executives, venture capitalists and policy makers in attendance at the conference.

Bharara's office last week brought criminal charges against hedge fund behemoth SAC Capital, which pleaded guilty to securities fraud and has agreed to pay USD 1.2 billion penalty to the government but SAC owner Steven Cohen has not be charged with criminal wrongdoing.

When asked if federal prosecutors are still probing Cohen, Bharara said the criminal case against the firm "remains open" and "there is no coverage for criminal prosecution, no immunity from criminal prosecution for anyone."

Bharara noted that it is important to hold institutions and not just individuals accountable for wrongdoing.

"Nobody can think just because they are a particular business or financial institution that they automatically have a get-out-of-jail-free card. You cannot put a business in prison but for accountability, for the truth to come out, sometimes institutions should be charged also."

On his office's campaign against insider trading on Wall Street, Bharara said "everyone should be deeply deeply worried about the cleverness of the prosecutors in my office." 

Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/ 

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Yoshita Singh in New York
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