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Commencement Speaker

Preet Bharara
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York

On May 15, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Preet Bharara to become the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Mr. Bharara’s nomination was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 7, 2009, and he was sworn in on August 13, 2009.

As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Bharara oversees the investigation and litigation of all criminal and civil cases brought on behalf of the United States in the Southern District of New York, which encompasses New York, Bronx, Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Sullivan counties. He supervises an office of more than 200 Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who handle a high volume of cases that involve domestic and international terrorism, narcotics and arms trafficking, financial and healthcare fraud, cybercrime, public corruption, gang violence, organized crime, and civil rights violations.

Under Mr. Bharara’s leadership, the office has 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 terrorist, narco-terrorist, narcotics, and money-laundering organizations. Its convictions have included major terrorists such as Usama bin Laden’s son-in-law Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, London imam Abu Hamza, and Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, and international criminals such as arms trafficker Viktor Bout and Somali pirate Abduwali Muse.

Since Mr. Bharara’s appointment, the office has continued the tradition of being at the forefront of prosecuting financial misconduct, including securities fraud. The office has secured convictions of numerous insider trading defendants, including Galleon hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, McKinsey managing director and Goldman Sachs board member Rajat Gupta, and hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors. The Civil Frauds Unit has brought a number of significant civil actions alleging financial and healthcare fraud and collected hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements, including from Deutsche Bank, CitiMortgage, and Bank of America for fraud relating to faulty lending practices. His office has held to account several of the world’s largest corporations for their misconduct, including JP Morgan Chase for its relationship with Madoff Securities; Toyota for lying to consumers about safety-related issues; BNP Paribas for violating U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Iran, and Cuba; and Anadarko for causing environmental damage at various sites around the country. The Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit has also charged some of the most cutting edge financial fraud cases, in addition to sophisticated tax fraud, bank fraud, and cybercrime cases, including the LIRR pension fraud, Swiss Bank Wegelin & Co., core members of the hacking groups LulzSec and Anonymous and drug trafficking website Silk Road, and digital currency provider Liberty Reserve.

Under Mr. Bharara’s supervision, the office has brought a series of significant and systemically revelatory public corruption cases against members of New York City and State governments. Notable public corruption defendants include New York State Senators Carl Kruger, Vincent Leibell, and Hiram Monseratte; New York State Assemblymen Eric Stevenson and Nelson Castro and Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa; and New York City Councilmen Larry Seabrook and Daniel Halloran. Furthermore, the office has 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 has 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.

In 2012, Mr. 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 also included in Bloomberg Markets Magazine’s “50 Most Influential” lists, Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment” lists, and Worth magazine’s “The Power 100: The 100 Most Powerful People in Finance” lists in 2012, 2013, and 2014; 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.

Mr. Bharara has delivered the keynote address at the commencements of Fordham Law School, Columbia Law School, and Cardozo School of Law, and, in 2014, spoke at Harvard Law School’s Class Day ceremony.

Prior to becoming the U.S. Attorney, Mr. 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, Mr. 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. Mr. 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.