Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance has created a Major Economic Crimes Bureau as he and other high-profile investigators redouble their efforts to fight financial fraud.
Vance, who replaced the Robert Morgenthau as district attorney on January 1, named senior U.S. Justice Department official Richard Weber to lead the new bureau. He will also be deputy chief of the district attorney's investigation division.
The new economic crimes bureau combines the Frauds Bureau, which was created in 1938 by then-DA and eventual U.S. presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey, and several lawyers from a bureau known as Investigation Division Central, or IDC.
In a statement on Thursday, Vance said the new bureau will help expand our battle against those who commit major economic frauds, as the district attorney's office works to uphold the integrity and security of New York's major financial markets.
Among IDC's recent successes were the convictions of former Tyco International Ltd Chief Executive Dennis Kozlowski and former Chief Financial Officer Mark Swartz for looting the company and defrauding investors.
Weber since 2005 had been chief of the Justice Department's asset forfeiture and money laundering section, where he oversaw several major U.S. and foreign prosecutions that resulted in more than $1 billion of asset forfeitures.
Among his cases were the federal portions of agreements announced in 2009 by the Justice Department and Morgenthau with Credit Suisse Group and Lloyds TSB Bank over alleged improper wire transfers and other violations involving Iranian banks and other entities. Credit Suisse and Lloyds agreed to pay a respective $536 million and $350 million of penalties.
Vance's announcement comes as U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement chief Robert Khuzami overhauls his division after predecessors received much criticism for lax enforcement.
State regulators like New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in New York are also campaigning aggressively against financial fraud.
Vance's father, also named Cyrus Vance, was U.S. secretary of state under President Jimmy Carter.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, editing by Dave Zimmerman)