Obama names Punjab-born Preet Bharara as US attorney

May 16th, 2009 - 10:40 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 15 (IANS) President Barack Obama has nominated Preet Bharara, a Punjab born Indian-American lawyer, to become the US attorney for Southern District of New York.

Bharara, 40, has advised the New York Democrat Senator Charles Schumer on legal matters and played a key role in the congressional investigation of the Bush administration’s firing of eight US attorneys, according to a White House announcement Friday.

“This group of men and women have distinguished themselves as fair, tenacious and respected attorneys throughout their careers in both public and private service,” Obama said of Bharara and five others named Friday.

“They will serve their country with distinction as US Attorneys and it is my honour to nominate them for these esteemed positions.”

Born in Punjab, India, Bharara immigrated to the US with his parents in 1970 and became a US citizen 10 years later. Raised in Monmouth County, New Jersey, he graduated from Harvard University in 1990 and from Columbia Law School in 1993.

Bharara was named 2007 South Asian Lawyer of the Year by the North American South Asian Bar Association.

Before joining Schumer’s office, Bharara was an assistant US attorney in the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, working in the general crimes, narcotics and organized crimeerrorism units from 2000 to 2005.

“I believe Preet Bharara will be one of the most outstanding US Attorneys that the Southern District, or any other, has ever had,” Schumer said in a statement. “He is smart, hardworking, focused, and unafraid to proceed wherever the facts of a case may lead.”

The Southern District, which traces its roots to 1789, prosecutes federal crimes in Manhattan and the Bronx as well as Westchester, Rockland and four other counties north of New York City.

It has jurisdiction over much of the financial industry, since major securities exchanges and banks are based within its boundaries.

Bharara started his legal career at the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, where he worked from 1993 to 1996. He left the firm to join Washington-based Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman LLP, now known as Dechert LLP.

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