About Preet Bharara
Preet Bharara is an American lawyer who served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017, nominated to the position on May 15, 2009 by President Barack Obama. Bharara’s nomination was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and he was sworn in on August 13. During his tenure, Bharara earned a reputation as one of “the nation’s most aggressive and outspoken prosecutors,” according to The New York Times. His office’s case against SAC capital, for example, resulted in the largest fine ever paid in the history of insider trading prosecution and reportedly served as an inspiration for the television series Billions, currently airing on Showtime.
In 2012, Bharara was featured on the cover of TIME magazine and appeared on its list of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.” He was included in Bloomberg Markets magazine’s “50 Most Influential” lists in 2014. He was also included in Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment” lists, and Worth magazine’s “The Power 100: The 100 Most Powerful People in Finance” lists in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. He was named in City & State’s “Power 100-New York City” and “Power 100-Albany” lists in 2013 and 2014; and in New York Observer’s “The City State: Albany’s Top 40” list in 2014 and 2015. He was also included in their “New York City’s Political Power 50” list in 2016. That same year, City & State also named him “Newsmaker of the Decade.”
As U.S. Attorney, Bharara oversaw the investigation and litigation of all criminal and civil cases brought on behalf of the United States in the Southern District of New York. He supervised an office of more than 200 Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who handled a high volume of cases involving terrorism, narcotics and arms trafficking, financial and healthcare fraud, cybercrime, public corruption, gang violence, organized crime, and civil rights violations.
Under Bharara’s leadership, the office experienced one of the most productive periods in its history. Early in his tenure, he formed the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit, which has continued the office’s long history of prosecuting leaders and associates of global and domestic terrorists, narco-terrorists, cartels, and money-laundering organizations. Its convictions have included major terrorists, arms traffickers, and even a Somali pirate.
During Bharara’s tenure, the office continued the tradition of being at the forefront of prosecuting financial misconduct, including securities fraud. The office secured convictions of numerous other insider trading defendants, including Raj Rajaratnam and Rajat Gupta. The Civil Frauds Unit brought a number of significant civil actions alleging financial and healthcare fraud and collected hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements for fraud relating to faulty lending practices. His office held to account several of the world’s largest corporations for their misconduct—defrauding consumers, causing environmental damage, and for violating U.S. sanctions abroad. The Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit also prosecuted some of the most cutting-edge financial fraud cases, in addition to sophisticated tax fraud, bank fraud, and cybercrime cases involving core members of the hacking groups LulzSec and Anonymous, drug trafficking website Silk Road, and digital currency providers.
Under Bharara’s supervision, the office also brought a series of significant and systemically revelatory public corruption cases against members of New York City and State governments: New York State Senators and Assemblymen, New York City Councilmen, the Former Majority Leader of the New York State Senate, and the Former Speaker of the New York State Assembly.
Furthermore, the office continued its traditional civil rights work by, for example, conducting a multi-year investigation into the treatment of adolescent males at Rikers Island and filing Americans with Disabilities Act cases against leading New York City institutions like Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, while simultaneously bringing new and innovative cases under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. The office also prosecuted more than 1,000 violent members and associates of various gangs, including the Bloods, Latin Kings, and Trinitarios, in an effort to make communities in the Southern District safer for their residents.
Bharara has delivered the keynote address at the commencements of Fordham Law School, Columbia Law School, Cardozo School of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law, Pace University School of Law, New York University School of Law, and in 2014, he spoke at Harvard Law School’s Class Day ceremony.
On April 1, 2017, Bharara joined the NYU School of Law faculty as a Distinguished Scholar in Residence.
Prior to becoming the U.S. Attorney, Bharara served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts. During his tenure, he helped to lead the Senate Judiciary Committee investigation of the firing of United States Attorneys.
From 2000 to 2005, Bharara served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted a wide range of cases involving organized crime, racketeering, securities fraud, money laundering, narcotics trafficking, and other crimes.
Bharara was a litigation associate in New York at Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman from 1996 to 2000 and at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher from 1993 to 1996. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with an A.B. in Government in 1990, and from Columbia Law School with a J.D. in 1993, where he was a member of the Columbia Law Review.