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The man behind the Indian diplomat row

Publication Date : 19-12-2013


Ever since he was in seventh grade, when he read Inherit the Wind - a play about a teacher on trial for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution - Preet Bharara, 44, knew he wanted to be a lawyer.

But he isn't just any lawyer. As United States attorney for the Southern District of New York - a title given to the chief federal prosecutor in each of the 94 districts - he has taken down terrorists, drug traffickers and at least 75 insider traders since his appointment in 2009, earning him the title Sheriff of Wall Street.

Bharara is also most recently responsible for the headline-grabbing arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, who allegedly submitted false documents to obtain a work visa for her helper.

Last year, Bharara made Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people, and was featured on the cover of Time magazine with the words "this man is busting Wall St" across his face.

One of his most notable insider trading cases resulted in the 2011 conviction of billionaire hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, head of Galleon Group, who was put away for 11 years, and former McKinsey chairman and Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta, who was sentenced to two years' jail in 2012.

In an interview last year, he told tv host Charlie Rose: "We don't think of it as busting Wall Street, we think of it as holding people accountable."

But putting away individuals is not enough. Last month, Bharara announced that hedge fund SAC Capital had pleaded guilty to insider trading violations, agreed to shut down its investment advisory business and pay a record US$1.8 billion penalty - the highest fine for insider trading offences.

A naturalised United States citizen, whose father is Sikh and mother is Hindu, Bharara moved to the US when he was two years old. His father, a doctor, sought the American dream and built a paediatric medical practice in New Jersey.

Bharara attended Harvard University and Columbia Law School. A father of three himself, Bharara told the International New York Times in a rare personal interview that busting crime leaves little time for his family.

"I work a lot and have a lot of obligations. When I have a little bit of time, I like to be with my family. We go out to eat as much as we can."

Bharara, who once served as chief counsel to New York Senator Charles Schumer, has down played speculations that he has political aspirations, saying many times that he hopes to be in his job for as long as possible.


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