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NRI Worldwide > NRI Profile

Preet Bharara: Iconoclastic prosecutor for whom none is sacred
Report dated 18/12/2013 @ 10:39 PM

Preet Bharara: Iconoclastic prosecutor for whom none is sacred A day after New York's southern district US attorney Preet Bharara moved ahead with the arrest and prosecution of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, he was back in business. This time his quarry was Purna Chandra Aramalla, a Queens, New York, pharmacist who was arrested for engaging in a scheme to defraud Medicaid and Medicare through the sale of illegally diverted prescription drugs, and related money-laundering charges.

"What! He nailed another Indian???" you could almost hear the community gadflies gasp, for such is the reputation the India-born US attorney had built in the time he has headed the prosecution wing of America's highest profile district Southern New York District, that includes Manhattan. Much of this traces back to his epic take-down of McKinsey's Rajat Gupta. But there have been others of the desi ilk too: From Gupta's Sri Lankan partner-in-white collar crime Raj Rajaratnam to Pakistani terrorists Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Faizal Shahzad.

But the broad consensus in the US is that he is a singleminded, iconoclastic prosecutor for whom no one, however high and mighty, is sacred from the billionaire Bernie Madoff to the son of the president of Suriname. In fact, there are many members of his investigating and prosecuting team who are also of desi stock from Sanjay Wadhwa, who led the Securities and Exchanges Commission investigation in the Raj-Rajat case, to Anjan Sahni, who led the terrorism task force.

Bharara, who was born in Ferozepur, Punjab, and moved to the US with his parents (his father is a Sikh and his mother is Hindu) when he was only two. He grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Harvard in 1990 and Columbia Law School in 1993 (which are also President Obama's alma mater), before embarking on a legal and political path where he was marked as a rising star very early in his career. Incidentally, his father-in-law and his mother-in-law is from Palestine and is of Jewish origin, making his children a composite of all the world great religions.

Obama appointed him US attorney one of 93 such attorneys across the US in the summer of 2009, at the instance of New York senator Charles Schumer, on whose Senate staff Bharara worked in the early 2000s. But the New York southern district is unlike any other geographic entity in the United States. Home to Manhattan and its moneyed millionaires of Wall Street, it has remained Bharara's focus.

"Prosecutor Preet Bharara collars the masters of the meltdown," A Time cover story proclaimed some months back under the title "This Man Is Busting Wall Street." The accompanying narrative talked of the "man who is bringing mob squad justice to Wall Street" while questioning some of his controversial tactics, including wire tapping to gather evidence, and whether it will be admissible in court.

One little known fact: His brother Vinnie Bharara is the founder-COO of Diapers.com. Consider the number of people who the younger Bharara has caused to wet their pants, he may well have helped in the business.

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