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Illustration of Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. (ANTHONY JENKINS/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Illustration of Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. (ANTHONY JENKINS/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)


Preet Bharara: The man who strikes fear into Wall Street Add to ...

Mr. Bharara says he has no desire to return to Washington and no plans to seek elected office. When I persist, asking whether he would return to the capital if asked, he laughs and protests. “I’m hoping to do this job for about a million years,” he says.

That emboldens me to ask one of my final questions. Can we expect another prosecution of a high-profile figure in the insider-trading investigation? It’s perfectly clear who I’m talking about: Steven Cohen, the billionaire and hedge-fund legend who founded SAC Capital Advisors. At least eight current and former employees of Mr. Cohen’s firm have been tied to alleged insider trading. Mr. Cohen has said that he acted properly at all times.

“We didn’t get everybody?” Mr. Bharara says, jokingly.

There are a few beats of silence as I wait for an answer to my question.

Just as I am about to move on, Mr. Bharara simply says, “Stay tuned.” Which could mean nothing. Or the opposite.


On the paucity of criminal prosecutions in the wake of the financial crisis:

“The system being what the system is, you can only proceed when you have confidence that you have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that you can convince 12 jurors to unanimously agree on. The one thing that people should appreciate – I’m speaking from my office, but I’m sure this is true of every office – is we’re not afraid of anyone, no matter how big they are or how wealthy they are.”

The best advice he received before starting this job:

“I got a lot of good advice from a lot of people. This may sound cliché, but this job, uniquely among jobs, I think, is all about doing the right thing. If you ever have a qualm or feel any queasiness about a course of conduct, about bringing a case, or about whether or not something should be disclosed or how you should proceed, then you shouldn’t do that thing. I sleep pretty comfortably every night.”

On public service:

I’ve always thought that the best thing you can do if you have a lot of privilege, as I’ve had – my parents didn’t, but I did – is to give back to the country that gave you so much. … I’ve said to my children, you don’t have to spend your whole life in public service, but you can spend some time. I like to suggest to law students – ‘You’re going to have a long career. For some portion of your career, if would be nice to do something that was larger than yourself, larger than just making a buck. And you’re enriched by it and your community is enriched by it.’”



Born in Ferozepur, India, 1968.

Attended Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.; and Columbia Law School, N.Y.

Family Life

Married, three children.

Lives in Westchester County, N.Y.


1993-1996: Lawyer at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher.

1996-2000: Lawyer at Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman.

2000-2005: Assistant U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York.

2005-2009: Chief counsel to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

2009-present: U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York

Editor's Note: Viet Dinh served as a senior official in the United States Justice Department from 2001 to 2003. His friend Preet Bharara, now the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, arrived in Washington in 2005. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Mr. Dinh's stint at the Justice Department was concurrent with Mr. Bharara's time in Washington.

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