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New mission, same focus: Interview with Preet Bharara, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara speaks about lessons learned, the outlook for new insider trading rules under the Biden administration, the challenges of overseeing COVID-relief funds, the difficulties of investigating Ponzi schemes and much more.

After making his mark bringing down fraudsters and other bad guys during his close to eight-year tenure as U.S. attorney for the Southern District Court of New York, Preet Bharara has a new career, several in fact.

The 52-year-old former prosecutor, known for his aggressive stance against Wall Street fraudsters, is now dedicating much of his time to teaching, working on several task forces — including one on insider trading — and relating his experiences and thoughts through books and podcasts. And it all appears to be going very well.

Vox Media recently bought his podcast company, Café Studios, which he co-founded with his brother Vinit Bharara in 2017. The podcasts, including the flagship platform “Stay Tuned with Preet,” explore how law and policy intersect with politics, news, business, history and technology. The company also produces newsletters, articles and live events.

“I am enjoying it very much,” says Bharara in a recent interview with Fraud Magazine. “I miss subpoena power. Who wouldn’t? It is a different mission now, but it is consistent to what I was doing before, and I get to talk about fraud with guys like you. … At some point in the future, it would be great to get back into public service. But I think some of what I am doing now is a public service."

Bharara’s name was floated late last year as a potential head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — a post that was eventually filled by Gary Gensler, who himself took a hard line toward banks while chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the CFTC). (See The Finance 202: Preet Bharara, Gary Gensler top list of potential picks for SEC chair, by Tory Newmyer with Brent D. Griffiths, The Washington Post, Dec. 9, 2020.)

Bharara was the chief federal law enforcement officer in the Southern District of New York, which includes Manhattan, between August 2009 and March 2017, when then-President Donald Trump famously fired him from his post.

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