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商业 - 金融

华尔街的铁面判官

William D. Cohan 2011年08月04日

作为美国纽约南区的联邦检察官,普里特•巴拉拉在很小的时候便形成了自己的是非观。这对于拉贾•拉贾拉特南和其他犯罪分子来说,绝对是个噩耗。

    纽约南区联邦检察官普里特•巴拉拉,现年42岁。1987年,巴拉拉还是哈佛大学(Harvard)二年级的学生,当时他定期在学生广播电台95.3 WHRV担任新闻节目主播。10月19日上午,在主持节目时,美国道琼斯工业平均指数(Dow Jones industrial average)从股市开盘便大幅跳水,之后又出现暴跌,收盘时下跌了22.6%。这一天后来被称为“黑色星期一”,造成此次股灾的原因有很多,但最主要的原因是在垃圾债券驱动下出现的恶意收购和猖獗的内幕交易,由此滋生长达数年的疯狂投机和对财富的贪欲。巴拉拉和他的联合制作人起初对这些事情并不在意,也不清楚这一事件的意义。此外,他们都未持有股票,也没有投资股市。所以,他们并未选择这条新闻作为头条播出。

    股市下跌的势头仍在继续,巴拉拉始终在密切关注着行情的变化,他最终得出的结论是,肯定发生了非常严重的事情。今年六月初,巴拉拉在接受金融记者采访时解释道,这两个学生最后终于“回过神来”,并决定全天跟踪报道股市历史上单日最大的跌幅。尽管他从事新闻工作的时间非常短暂,最终也是选择了法学院,但他开玩笑道:“那时候,我天生一副做主持人的相貌。”他告诉记者们,就在那一天,他突然开了窍,明白了市场的兴衰沉浮和维护市场公正的重要性,而这件事的意义在于,他从此确定了自己的职业道路,并在华尔街最有权势的职位上声名鹊起。

    在接受采访的当天晚上,巴拉拉刚刚取得宣誓就职23个月以来最大的一场胜利——5月11日,斯里兰卡裔的亿万富翁、对冲基金经理拉贾•拉贾拉特南被判全部14项内幕交易罪成立。当时的巴拉拉兴奋不已,感觉志得意满,甚至有些自我膨胀。他再次用他弟弟维尼特自我调侃。他说自己的弟弟才是巴拉拉家族最成功的一员,因为他已辞去律师的工作,在互联网上开办了一家出售尿不湿的公司。巴拉拉回忆道,去年,维尼特把自己的公司Quidsi(该公司拥有Diapers.com域名)以5.4亿美元的价格卖给了亚马逊公司(Amazon),当时对于哪个儿子更令自己自豪的问题,两兄弟的移民父母拒绝回答。但巴拉拉对记者说道:“我只知道,我弟弟得知亚马逊要以5亿多美元的价格收购他的公司那天,也只有那一天,我的印度裔妈妈给桑贾伊•古普塔博士的妈妈打过电话,当时她说:‘你就羡慕去吧!’”

    宣判那天晚上巴拉拉心情大好。因为经过接近两年的紧张调查之后,难得能有休息的时间。此次针对内部交易的打击行动是他就职以来涉案级别最高的一次。事实上,他的法眼监控着整个刑事司法系统的各个方面。他对记者解释道,确实,从拉贾拉特南被逮捕之后,他所在的部门已经指控49名被告犯内幕交易罪,并且,赢得了有罪抗辩,几乎所有人都被判有罪。同时,他还花了几分钟时间列举了几场与华尔街无关的胜利,包括对时代广场爆炸案嫌疑人费萨尔•哈扎德和纽约多位腐败政客的判决,以及对非法军火走私商威克特•布特的指控,和对几家在线博彩公司的起诉等等,不一而足。他有条理地、详细地列出了几十项成就,而以前,他极少在公共场合这么做。

    其实即便没有其他原因,当天晚上也不同寻常,因为极少在公众面前露面的巴拉拉竟然搞起了自我推销。巴拉拉与他的前任们在许多方面都存在差异,但最显著的一点或许是,他始终坚持低调行事。几乎每一次与他的对话都是非正式的。他在参加媒体发布会的时候,也是严格依照脚本,并且尽量简洁。为了保证最妥当的措辞或情感,以及发言效果的最大化,他的每次讲话都要经过反复斟酌。如果在与巴拉拉本人或他的副手博伊德•约翰逊进行非正式谈话时偶尔冒出一些关于这位检察官的趣闻或启发性的轶事,必须得从别的人那里寻找出处和确认。巴拉拉一向回避拿他本人大做文章;如果实在躲不过,他就极力将重点转移到自己手下大约200名检察官所取得的彪炳战绩,以及自己为培养他们所付出的努力。(颇具讽刺意味的是,密切关注纽约南区的记者或许会注意到,在对金融记者们的讲话中,巴拉拉把检察官和记者进行了对比,他表示尽管“这两个职业都被社会所诟病,”但他们又都“深切关注正义与真理。”)

    不过,尽管巴拉拉煞费苦心,仍然很难以抑制人们对他的追捧。在拉贾拉特南被定罪之后,巴拉拉赢得了广泛的赞誉。CNN将他评为 “最有魅力的人”。《华盛顿邮报》(Washington Post)称他是“华尔街的新任治安官”。《赫芬顿邮报》(Huffington Post)把他称为“华尔街的噩梦”——当然是出于赞扬。《纽约时报》(The New York Times)表示,判决证明纽约南区“获得了新生”,并将绝大部分功劳算在了巴拉拉名下。报纸中写道:“巴拉拉先生魅力十足,他在镜头前镇定自若,语气坚定,而且总是能巧妙地面对采访。”

自幼便形成了是非观

    巴拉拉广受欢迎的原因显而易见。他那霍雷肖•阿尔杰式的故事(霍雷肖•阿尔杰是美国作家,阿尔杰式神话是指只要努力,就能白手起家——译注)极具吸引力。普里特得勒•S•巴拉拉出生于印度旁遮普邦北部的菲罗兹布尔。父亲是锡克教教徒,而母亲则是印度教徒。1947年印巴分治之后,他们最初居住的地区被划归巴基斯坦;之后,他们搬到了印度所属的地区。(巴拉拉的岳母是犹太人,岳父是穆斯林,所以,他经常开玩笑:“四个不同的家庭,四种不同的信仰——半个世纪前,都曾因为宗教信仰而被迫漂泊。当我妻子在为犹太赎罪日斋戒时,我岳父却在为伊斯兰教的斋月斋戒,而我一整天都得吃咖喱饺。”)

    巴拉拉的父亲曾在没有马桶和下水道的房子里住过一段时间。在巴拉拉两岁时,为了摆脱贫困,他们全家搬到了美国新泽西州的孟莫斯郡。他说,他们“抛弃了一切,两手空空来到美国,一切都得从头开始。”他父亲是一名医生,在艾斯柏瑞公园市开了一家小诊所。这里也是传奇歌手布鲁斯•斯普林斯汀的成名之地。而巴拉拉一直是他的铁杆粉丝。在巴拉拉的办公室里有一张斯普林斯汀与他妈妈的合影,每次工作到很晚的时候,他都会听斯普林斯汀的歌曲。(他与搭档约翰逊只要有时间就会去看斯普林斯汀的演唱会。)12岁时,巴拉拉正式加入美国国籍。

    巴拉拉最敬重的高中老师回忆起2009年,她突然接到的一个电话:他说道:“您好,T夫人,我是普里特。我希望您能参加我的宣誓就职仪式。”

    四年级时,巴拉拉的父亲终于攒到了足够的钱,把他的大儿子送到一所与众不同的、甚至有些怪异的学校——位于新泽西州廷顿弗斯的兰尼学校(Ranney School,著名演员克尔斯滕•邓斯特也曾在这里就读)。学校的创始人拉塞尔•G•兰尼是二战老兵,也是一位备受尊敬的教育家,他个性十足,经常穿一身淡紫色西装,开一辆蓝绿色的奔驰车。不过,他采用的是铁腕治学。他要求学生必须穿蓝色运动上衣和灰色法兰绒裤子。正是在兰尼学校,巴拉拉阅读了《杀死一只知更鸟》(To Kill a Mockingbird)和《风的传人》(Inherit the Wind),从而决心成为一名律师。那时,他对美国梦深信不疑。

    他最喜欢的一位老师是芭芭拉•汤姆林森,她在学校教授美国历史和美国文学。巴拉拉在校报做编辑时,她也是校报的顾问。在她的影响下,巴拉拉阅读了库尔特•冯内古特的作品——《第五号屠宰场》(Slaughterhouse Five),这本书至今依然是他的最喜欢的著作。她还让巴拉拉明白了清晰、简洁的写作风格以及自我校对的重要性。

    汤姆林森同样让巴拉拉明白了社会的不公正,这一课他至今依然铭记在心。在高中毕业之前,当时巴拉拉已经被哈佛大学录取,但他发现校长竟然解雇了汤姆林森,起因是兰尼计划给学校的老师加薪,但要求他们延长工作时间,而汤姆林森强烈反对,因为她认为这并不是真正的加薪。巴拉拉听说她被解雇的事情后,他去拜访了她并发誓要采取行动。据汤姆林森回忆,他当时对她说:“这太糟糕了。你是学校最优秀的老师之一——我们必须得做点什么。我会去召集学生。我们要联合起来提出抗议。”

    汤姆林森试图说服巴拉拉放弃。因为巴拉拉当时刚刚被哈佛大学录取,她提醒他,学校的创办人兰尼可能会写信给哈佛大学,给他扣上刺头的帽子。她希望巴拉拉不要为了无所谓的事情,拿自己的未来冒险,因为当时她已经丢掉了饭碗。但巴拉拉不为所动,还召集了一群学生,一起去兰尼的办公室找他理论。汤姆林森在接受《财富》杂志(Fortune)采访时表示:“当时他就象是去面见上帝,但无所畏惧。”

    不过,他们的行动最终还是于事无补——汤姆林森后来在另外一家学校找到了一份新工作,而巴拉拉也去了哈佛大学。但他对汤姆林森被辞退的不公正遭遇依然念念不忘。几年后,大约2009年8月份,汤姆林森突然接到巴拉拉母亲打来的电话,她先问她是不是在兰尼小学教过她儿子普里特的那位芭芭拉•汤姆林森。然后巴拉拉接过电话:“夫人,您好,我是普里特。我刚刚被任命为纽约南区的联邦检察官。我希望您能来参加我的宣誓就职仪式。”汤姆林森被完全惊呆了。她说:“想他这样身居高位的人,有几个人还能想起高中的老师,然后还跟她说:‘我希望您能到场。’他能那么做,真是让我自愧不如。”

    去年,巴拉拉到兰尼学校为56位毕业生发表毕业典礼演说,其中包括他的两个堂兄妹和布鲁斯•斯普林斯汀的女儿杰西•斯普林斯汀。他在演讲中下足了功夫,因为他以为“老大”(布鲁斯•斯普林斯汀的绰号——译注)也会参加。他在演说中引用了已故美国最高法院法官奥利弗•温德尔•霍尔姆斯的话,还引用了鲍比•肯尼迪的话。他对兰尼的毕业生们说道:“我认为,圆满的人生并不只是追求物质财富或深奥的知识;圆满的人生也应该包括为他人利益而努力。”(可惜,斯普林斯汀并没有出席;他的女儿当时则正在参加马术比赛。)

    即便在哈佛大学,巴拉拉依然不改其直言不讳的个性。在第一天上课时,他遇到了韦亚特•丁恩。后者后来在小布什执政时期担任副检察长,并被认为是《爱国者法案》(Patriot Act)之父【他还是新闻集团(News Corp.)的董事】。两人在政府研究课上首次碰面,之后两人花了整整一天一夜的时间——直到第二天上午9点钟——辩论美国的国父们到底是相信人性本善还是人性本恶。(只有哈佛才会发生这种事。)丁恩说,他支持的应该是人性本恶的说法,而巴拉拉则持相反的观点——在接受《财富》杂志采访时,丁恩称:“我们一直是最好的朋友,但我们一直争论不休。”这次辩论,让他对这位有思想的新朋友印象深刻。丁恩说:“他主动提出问题,并且努力想要找到正确的答案,而不是相反。比如问他是谁,然后从中推导出答案。他对自己非常了解。他知道自己的工作有哪些要求,而且他从不拐弯抹角。他就像笔直的内华达公路一样坦率。”

进入纽约南区的跳板

    从哈佛大学毕业后,巴拉拉又就读了哥伦比亚大学法学院(Columbia Law School),并于1993年毕业。之后,他在马克•格林的竞选活动中担任暑期志愿者,当时马克•格林正在竞选纽约市的公共议政员。最后,格林赢得了竞选,而巴拉拉也去了美国格信律师事务所(Gibson Dunn & Crutcher),担任诉讼助理。三年后,他跳槽到另外一家律师事务所Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman。2000年,巴拉拉成为纽约南区的一名检察官。头五年里,他主要负责起诉有组织犯罪、毒品犯罪和证券欺诈等。

    很快,改变巴拉拉命运的时刻来临了。而改变他命运的人便是现任纽约州州长安德鲁•库默的幕僚长本•劳斯基。劳斯基是巴拉拉的朋友,当时也在纽约南区担任检察官。他曾担任过纽约州参议员查尔斯•舒默的首席法律顾问。后来由杰夫•伯曼接任。当时,杰夫•伯曼希望能去私人事务所工作,因此联系到劳斯基。舒默的首席法律顾问有一个惯例,即需要在离任前找到自己的继任者(而且,之后几个月,还要应付舒默的电话,听他诉说不舍之情。)伯曼希望劳斯基能从纽约南区的年轻检察官中,推荐一位对担任舒默的首席法律顾问感兴趣的人。劳斯基对伯曼说道:“在整栋大楼里,我只能想起一个家伙来。”然后,巴拉拉从2005年2月起开始为舒默工作。

    巴拉拉的朋友们认为,他会成为一位伟大的首席检察官或最高法院法官。但他们也说,巴拉拉同样希望自己能在物质财富上有所收获。

    舒曼是参议院司法委员会(the Senate Judiciary Committee)的主要成员。作为他的首席法律顾问,巴拉拉负责调查了8位美国联邦检察官被解职的事件,最终致使美国司法部部长阿尔伯特•冈萨雷斯辞职。在此次备受争议的事件中,巴拉拉凭借不偏不倚、不带党派倾向、从容不迫的行事方式赢得了普遍的赞扬。劳斯基表示,他相信正是巴拉拉的幽默和随和的性格,使他在此次艰巨的任务中取得成功。劳斯基表示:“他能力全面。他是非常聪明的律师,优秀的检察官,但在司法委员会,你必须能够看到事情的两个方面,并与各方的人员有效合作。而普里特恰好便是这种人,他能够与任何人友好地相处。”

    奥巴马当选美国总统后不久,由小布什任命的纽约南区联邦检察官迈克尔•加西亚宣布辞职。2009年2月,舒默向奥巴马总统推荐他的得力干将巴拉拉担任该职位。《纽约时报》(The New York Times)以“舒默助手确认出任联邦检察官”为标题报道了这则消息。当时舒默表示:“我相信普里特•巴拉拉将成为纽约南区,甚至全美国最优秀的联邦检察官。”

华尔街的新任治安官

    一路走来,巴拉拉赢得了自己的同事和上司的信任,他们都不遗余力地为他推荐各种职位,而且职位的权利和影响力也越来越大。巴拉拉的好友布莱恩•本兹考斯基表示:“他给我的印象始终是非常体贴。他了解政治,但他却不是政客。在我看来,他对政治并不敏感。他更关注的是做应该做的事。”布莱恩曾经担任过美国前司法部部长迈克尔•穆凯西的幕僚长,目前是华盛顿凯易律师事务所(Kirkland & Ellis)一名律师。

    巴拉拉对纽约南区检察机构的管理也得到了很高的评价。比尔•伯克表示:“这个部门现在生气勃勃。”比尔•伯克曾在小布什执政期间担任白宫副法律顾问。他与巴拉拉相识约有十年时间,他认为巴拉拉给部门带来了“活力和领导能力。”他说:“对于联邦助理检察官来说,最重要的是清楚自己背后有上司的支持。普里特信任他们,对他们也充满了信心。这为整个部门带来了实实在在的推动力。”

    在拉贾拉特南案件中,检察院有效使用了窃听装置,这是巴拉拉接管检察院之前做出的决定,并且他以合理的理由获得了法院的批准。这让华尔街各个阶层的经纪人都惶惶不可终日,因为他们根本无法确定执法人员何时,或者是否会进行窃听。巴拉拉在宣布拉贾拉特南被逮捕的消息时,曾着重强调了这一点。巴拉拉在准备的讲话中表示:“本案应该是首次针对华尔街的重大内幕交易犯罪使用经法院授权的窃听手段。我们今天指控的所有被告人,都是通过电话窃听才得以认定他们的罪行。此次对窃听手段的积极应用意义重大:这种强大的调查工具在对有组织犯罪和贩毒集团的调查过程中非常有效,现在,我们正式将这种手法运用到针对白领阶层的内幕交易所进行的调查。”

    尼尔•巴罗夫斯基也曾在纽约南区担任检察官,目前,刚从问题资产资助计划(TARP)特别监察长的位子上退下来。他认为,巴拉拉改变了华尔街的游戏规则。他说:“华尔街被吓坏了。现在他们在进行交易之前,必须再三考虑,因为他们可能因为各种原因而被逮捕。手机并不安全,短信也不例外。(他)传递了这样一个信息:‘我们会抓到你,一切罪证都逃不过我们眼睛。’普里特充分利用这一绝佳机会,通过使用这些装置深刻地影响了华尔街的工作方式。”

    对拉贾拉特南的判决能否改变华尔街的行为模式?有些人却半信半疑。理查德•希夫是费城Montgomery McCracken律师事务所主席,曾在克林顿政府担任财政部长秘书,负责法律执行事务。尽管他也承认检察机构给华尔街敲响了“警钟”,并且代表着“加强执法新时代的来临”,但他认为判决的实际影响可能会小于预期。他表示:“从我的经验来看,人们都认为自己不会被抓住。横财当前,贪欲会控制人们的行为。”

    而对于巴拉拉最大的批评在于,针对那些导致或加剧金融危机的银行家们,这位华尔街的新任治安官并没有对他们提起刑事或民事诉讼。巴拉拉或许需要拿出对策解决这个问题,才能再次获得晋升,因为批评者认为这种结果让人无法接受。前纽约州州长兼纽约州司法部部长艾略特•斯皮策在接受CNN采访时表示:“【针对华尔街】迫切需要提起民事指控。但到目前却依然未采取行动,确实让人吃惊。”斯皮策表达出了美国普通大众和华尔街以外人士的心声【电影《监守自盗》(Inside Job)的导演查尔斯•弗格森在发表奥斯卡金像奖获奖感言时,也表达了同样的想法。】

    但纽约南区断然驳斥了这一批评。他们称,尽管没有提出指控,但并不能因此抹煞检方的努力工作。他们调查了堆积如山的证据,以明确是否应该提出指控,以及确定哪些是确凿的证据。而且,更复杂的是,大陪审团调查要求保密,因此检察官无法公开证据,解释检方为何没有提出指控。其中,巴罗夫斯基对这种说法非常赞同。他在接受《财富》杂志采访时表示:“未能看到有更高级别的人落马,我同样也感到非常愤慨。但作为一名前检察官,在没有见到他们掌握的证据之前,就贸然对他们做出评判,这是不公平的。”

未来,路在何方

    那么,巴拉拉未来应该怎么做?成为纽约南区联邦检察官一直是他的梦想,他不会把它作为往上爬的垫脚石。拉贾拉特南被判有罪之后,普里特的资深媒体顾问艾伦•戴维斯代表他对媒体表示:“普里特热爱他的工作,不论是现在还是将来,他都没有竞选国家公职的打算。”不过,他的朋友们都认为他会成为一位伟大的首席检察官或联邦法官,甚至是最高法院法官。他们对他的交际能力赞不绝口,并且认为他有能力通过选举获得任何职位,尽管他表示自己对于竞选活动没有丝毫兴趣。他们还谈到他一直有一个愿望,那就是有一天能多赚些钱。毕竟,他有三个孩子,而且希望他们像他那样接受教育。在过去几年,他在各种公共部门的工作中每年可以拿到150,000美元的收入,但他们认为,即便如此,如果有人邀请他合作开办私人律师事务所,面临这种诱惑,他绝对无法抵抗。毕竟,达到巴拉拉这种级别的人每年赚几百万美元,绝对是轻而易举。

    于此同时,巴拉拉知道自己正在努力地匡扶正义,并且毫不畏惧,这让他充满了力量,同时他还保留了自己的幽默感。本•劳斯基记得在2004年,当时,他与巴拉拉负责的黑手党的案子到了紧要关头。仅一天早上便逮捕了三十位黑手党成员;劳斯基和巴拉拉必须要商谈30份保释协议。随着逮捕接近尾声,首席检察官巴拉拉给罪犯的代理律师打电话。秘书接听后,他提出要跟相关律师通电话。

    他说:“我们是普里特•巴拉拉和本•劳斯基。”

    助理问道:“皮特?”

    巴拉拉回答道:“普里特!”

    助理疑惑不解地问他:“彼得?普利特尔?普里普?”

    劳斯基说他们就这样来回绕不清楚。最后,他说:“在打第五通电话的时候,对方接起电话,这时(巴拉拉)苦笑着看了我一眼,然后笑着说:‘某某某在吗?’对方说:‘是的,他在。请问您是哪位?’然后他朝我眨了眨眼,说道:‘我是本•劳斯基。’”

    了解巴拉拉的人都很熟悉他妙语连珠的一面。但诙谐的表象下面潜藏着的是巴拉拉根除华尔街内外所有不公的强烈抱负和执着信念。不论未来是竞选公职或到私营行业就职,巴拉拉家的“另外”一个儿子已经名垂青史。

    ——威廉姆•D•科安,《财富》杂志撰稿人,并著有一部关于高盛投资公司(Goldman Sachs)的新书《金钱与权力》(Money and Power )

    (翻译 刘进龙)

    When Preet Bharara, the 42-year-old U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, was a sophomore at Harvard in 1987, he had a regular gig as a news anchor at the student radio station, 95.3 WHRV. The morning of Oct. 19, he was on the news desk as the Dow Jones industrial average plunged from the opening bell and then collapsed, ending up down 22.6%. Black Monday, as the day became known, was a result of many factors, not least of which were years of wild speculation and greed brought on by a wave of junk-bond-fueled hostile takeovers and rampant insider trading. Bharara and his co-producer were oblivious to those facts and, at first, were also clueless about the import of what was going on. Neither of them owned any stock or had invested in the stock market. Some other story led their news broadcast.

    But Bharara kept his eye on the ticker as the market continued to fall and eventually came to the conclusion that something big was happening. Finally, the two students "came to our senses," Bharara explained in a speech to a group of financial journalists in early June, and decided to lead the news for the rest of the day with the fact that the market had suffered its biggest one-day percentage drop in history. Although his foray into journalism was brief and he ended up in law school -- "Even back then, I had a face for radio," he joked -- something clicked for him that day, he told the crowd, about the vicissitudes of the markets and the importance of maintaining their integrity -- something, the implication was, that would set him on the career path that today has him making a name for himself in one of the most powerful seats on Wall Street.

    The night of the speech, Bharara was fresh off his biggest victory in the nearly 23 months since he'd been sworn in -- the May 11 conviction of Raj Rajaratnam, the Sri Lankan--born billionaire hedge fund manager, on all 14 counts of insider trading on which he was charged -- and he was feeling confident and expansive, even cocky. He recycled one of his favorite self-deprecating jokes about how his younger brother, Vinit, was the more successful Bharara because he had left his job as a lawyer and started a business that sells diapers over the Internet. After Vinit sold the company, Quidsi (it owns Diapers.com), last year for $540 million to Amazon.com, Bharara recounted, the brothers' immigrant parents refused to answer the question about which son made them the most proud. "All I know," Bharara told the crowd, "is it was not until the day that my brother got word that Amazon was buying his company for more than half-a-billion dollars, that my very proud, Indian-American mother got on the phone with Dr. Sanjay Gupta's mother and said, 'Eat your heart out.' "

    The yukking it up that night was a rare break from a nearly two-year span that has been utterly serious. While his crackdown on insider trading has been his highest-profile pelt, Bharara has been on a tear across all aspects of the criminal justice system. Yes, he explained to journalists, his office had charged 49 defendants with insider trading in the 21 months since Rajaratnam had been arrested, and had won guilty pleas or convictions for nearly every one. But he also spent several minutes tick through a laundry list of victories unrelated to Wall Street, from the convictions of Times Square bomber Faisel Shahzad and multiple corrupt New York politicians to accused arms trafficker Victor Bout, as well as indictments of several online gambling companies -- and much, much more. He listed the dozens of accomplishments in a methodical, comprehensive way he had rarely, if ever, done before publicly.

    Indeed, the night was remarkable if for no other reason than the level of self-promotion the notoriously private Bharara was engaging in. Of the many defining characteristics that set Bharara apart from his predecessors, the most remarkable may be his dogged insistence on keeping as low a profile as possible. Nearly every conversation with him is off the record. Press conferences are tightly scripted and brief. He carefully scrubs the many speeches he delivers to make sure there is no out-of-place word or sentiment and to ensure each has maximum impact. Amusing and revelatory anecdotes about him, should they bubble up in off-the-record conversations with him or his chief deputy, Boyd Johnson, must be sourced and confirmed elsewhere. Big articles are to be discouraged; if there is no way around them, enormous effort is put into steering the story away from Bharara toward the multiple accomplishments of his team of some 200 prosecutors and his efforts to nurture them. (Reporters who closely cover the Southern District might have found it ironic that in his speech to the financial journalists, Bharara drew a parallel between the work of prosecutors and journalists, saying that while both have "come to be maligned in society," both "care deeply about justice and truth.")

    But however hard he tries, it's difficult to keep the adulation at bay. After his office won the conviction of Rajaratnam, Bharara was lauded far and wide. CNN named him one of its "most fascinating people." The Washington Post described him as the new "Sheriff of Wall Street." The Huffington Post called him "the scourge of Wall Street" -- meaning it as a compliment. The New York Times noted that the verdict confirmed the Southern District of New York was "back" and gave Bharara a heaping dose of the credit. "Mr. Bharara is a charismatic figure who is comfortable in front of cameras, can talk tough, and has a knack for the witty sound bite," the paper wrote.

An early sense of right and wrong

    It's not hard to see why Bharara is so widely admired. His Horatio Alger-esque story is nearly irresistible. Preetinder S. Bharara was born in Ferozepur, in the northern Punjab region of India. His father was a Sikh and his mother was a Hindu. They lived originally in a region that later became part of Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947; they then moved to the Indian state. (When Bharara married his wife, whose mother was Jewish and whose father was Muslim, he often joked, "Four different families, practicing four different faiths -- all compelled to flee half-a-century ago because of their religion. Even when my wife fasts for Yom Kippur, and my father-in-law fasts for Ramadan, I get to stuff my face with samosas all day.")

    In search of a way out of punishing poverty -- his father lived for a time in a house without plumbing -- Bharara's parents moved the family to Monmouth County, N.J., when Bharara was 2. They left "everything behind to start life from scratch in the United States," he has said. His father, a doctor, opened a small medical practice in Asbury Park, the legendary stomping ground of Bruce Springsteen, of whom Bharara has long been a major fan. In his office, Bharara has a picture of Springsteen and his mother together, and he listens to Springsteen at night when he is working late. (He and Johnson attend Springsteen concerts together when they can.) At 12, Bharara became a naturalized U.S. citizen.

    Bharara's favorite high school teacher recalls a phone call out of the blue in 2009: "Hi, Mrs. T, this is Preet," he said. "I'd like you to come to my swearing-in."

    By the fourth grade, Bharara's father had scraped together enough money to send his oldest son to the quirky, idiosyncratic Ranney School, in Tinton Falls, N.J. (actress Kirsten Dunst is also an alum). The school's founder, Russell G. Ranney, a World War II veteran and an admired educator, was a colorful figure who wore lavender suits and drove around in a turquoise Mercedes -- but who ruled the school with an iron fist. Students were required to wear blue blazers and gray flannel pants. It was at Ranney, after reading To Kill a Mockingbird and Inherit the Wind, that Bharara resolved to become a lawyer. By then, he was a huge believer in the American Dream.

    One of his favorite teachers there was Barbara Tomlinson, who taught American history and American literature, and was the adviser to the school newspaper when Bharara was its editor. She exposed Bharara to the writing of Kurt Vonnegut -- Slaughterhouse Five remains one of his favorite books -- and taught him about the importance of clear, succinct writing and being able to edit oneself.

    Tomlinson also taught him a lesson in injustice that he talks about to this day. Nearing the end of his senior year, after Bharara had been admitted to Harvard, he discovered that the headmaster had fired Tomlinson for objecting to Ranney's plan to give the school's teachers a raise while requiring them to work longer hours, suggesting that wasn't a raise. When Bharara heard of her firing, he went to her and vowed to take action. "This is terrible," Tomlinson says he told her. "You're one of the best teachers in the school -- we have to do something. I'll get the students together. We'll organize. We'll protest or something."

    She tried to talk him out of it. He had just been accepted to Harvard, and Ranney, she cautioned, could easily write the school a letter labeling him a troublemaker. She told him not to jeopardize his future for nothing -- that she had already lost her job. But Bharara persisted, getting a group of students together to see Ranney in his office. "This was like going to see God in his den," Tomlinson told Fortune.

    The meeting changed nothing -- Tomlinson got a new teaching job at a different school and Bharara went off to Harvard. But the injustice of her firing stuck with him. Years later, around August 2009, Tomlinson got a call out of the blue from Bharara's mother, who wanted to know if she was the same Barbara Tomlinson who had taught her son Preet at Ranney. Then Bharara was on the phone: "Hi Mrs. T., this is Preet, and I've just been nominated to be U.S. attorney for the Southern District. I'd like you to come to my swearing-in." Tomlinson was dumbfounded. "How many people in a position like that would reach back to a high school teacher and say, 'I'd like you to be there?' " she says. "I was very humbled that he would do that."

    Last year Bharara gave the commencement address at the Ranney School to the graduating class of 56 students, including two of his cousins and Jessie Springsteen, Bruce's daughter. He worked extra-hard on his speech, assuming the Boss would be in attendance. He quoted Oliver Wendell Holmes, the late Supreme Court justice. He quoted Bobby Kennedy. At Ranney, he told the graduating students, "I received the lesson that the fullest life is not spent in merely acquiring material wealth or esoteric knowledge; the fullest life involves a commitment to act also for the benefit of other people." (Springsteen wasn't there; his daughter was at an equestrian competition instead.)

    Bharara's outspokenness continued at Harvard. On the first day of classes, he met Viet Dinh, who would go on to become an assistant attorney general under George W. Bush and who many consider to be the father of the Patriot Act (he is also a director of News Corp. (NWSA). After meeting in a government studies class, they spent the entire day and all night -- until 9 a.m. the next morning -- debating whether the founding fathers believed man to be inherently good or evil. (Only at Harvard.) Dinh says now that he probably took the side of man being evil, while Bharara took the opposing view -- "and we've been best friends and we haven't stopped arguing ever since," Dinh told Fortune. He came away from the discussion impressed by his thoughtful new friend. "He asked questions and tried to find the right answers rather than the converse, which is ask who he is and then therefore derive the answer from there," Dinh said. "He knows who he is. He knows what his job requires and he calls it the way he sees it. He is as straight as the Nevada Highway is long."

Stepping stones to the Southern District

    From Harvard, Bharara was off to Columbia Law School, from which he graduated in 1993, before heading to work as a summer volunteer in the campaign of Mark Green, who was then running for New York City's public advocate. Green won the race, and Bharara left for private practice, working as a litigation associate at the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher. Three years later, he jumped to the New York office of another law firm, Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman. In 2000, Bharara became a prosecutor in the Southern District, where for five years he prosecuted organized crime, narcotics, and securities fraud, among other crimes.

    A turn of fate soon came from his friend and fellow Southern District prosecutor Ben Lawsky, now chief of staff to New York's governor, Andrew Cuomo. Lawsky had previously been chief counsel to New York Sen. Charles Schumer and at the time had been talking to Jeff Berman, the man who replaced him as Schumer's chief counsel and who himself was leaving for the private sector. The tradition was for Schumer's chief counsel to find his own replacement before departing (and then to continue to field calls for months from Schumer, who was said to have trouble letting go). Berman wanted to know if Lawsky knew of any young prosecutor in the Southern District who might be interested in being Schumer's chief counsel. "There's only one guy I can think of in the entire building," Lawsky told Berman. Bharara started working for Schumer in February 2005.

    Friends say Bharara would make a great attorney general or Supreme Court Justice. But they also suggest he might like to make some money.

    As chief counsel to Schumer, who was a leading member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Bharara led the investigation into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys -- which ultimately led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales -- and generally won plaudits for his even-handed, nonpartisan, and unflappable approach to the highly controversial episode. Lawsky says he believes Bharara's humor and congenial manner made him successful in that tough assignment. "He's the whole package," Lawsky says. "He's a very smart lawyer, good prosecutor, but on the Judiciary Committee you need to be able to see both sides of issues and work well, especially with people on both sides of the aisle. Preet is just one of these people who has the ability to get along with anyone."

    In the wake of Obama's election, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District, Michael Garcia, who was appointed by George W. Bush, announced his resignation. It was Schumer who recommended Bharara -- one of his key advisers -- to President Obama for the top job in the Southern District in February 2009. The New York Times headline simply said, SCHUMER AIDE IS CONFIRMED AS U.S. ATTORNEY. "I believe Preet Bharara will be one of the most outstanding U.S. attorneys that the Southern District, or any other, has ever had," Schumer said at the time.

    The new sheriff of Wall Street

    At each stop along the way, Bharara has managed to impress both his peers and his bosses and to win their confidence, and they have been eager to recommend him repeatedly for positions of increasing power and authority. "He's always impressed me as a very thoughtful guy," says Bharara's friend Brian Benczkowski, former chief of staff to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and now an attorney at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington. "He understands politics, but he's not somebody who's political, in my view. He's not unaware of politics, but I think his compass is more directed at doing the right thing."

    Bharara also gets high marks for his management of the Southern District. "They have a real spring in their step in that office now," says Bill Burke, the former deputy White House counsel under George W. Bush who has known Bharara for nearly a decade and says Bharara has brought "energy and a natural leadership quality" to the office. "One of the most important things for the assistant U.S. attorneys," he says, "is to feel like the boss has got their back. Preet trusts in them and believes in them. It has given that office a real boost."

    With the effective use of wiretaps in the Rajaratnam case -- a decision that was made prior to Bharara's taking over the office and required a judge's approval based on evidence of probable cause -- he is credited with instilling a new sense of fear among Wall Street traders of every stripe who can no longer be sure when, or if, law enforcement officials might be listening in. Bharara made that point emphatically when he announced Rajaratnam's arrest. "We believe this case represents the first time that court-authorized wiretaps have been used to target significant insider trading on Wall Street," he said in his prepared remarks. "All the defendants charged today were ultimately caught committing their alleged crimes over phones that we were listening to. This aggressive use of wiretaps is important: It shows that we are targeting white-collar insider-trading rings with the same powerful investigative tools that have worked so successfully against the mob and drug cartels."

    Neil Barofksy, who worked with Bharara as a prosecutor in the Southern District and who just completed two years as the special inspector general of the TARP program, says he believes Bharara has changed the rules of the road on Wall Street. "It scared the hell out of people," he says. "It's the thinking twice about doing the transaction because there's so many different potential ways now of getting caught. Your cellphone is not safe. Your instant message isn't safe. [He] sent a message: 'Not only are we going to get you, but you're not going to be able to cover your tracks.' Preet has really taken advantage of a unique opportunity to use these tools to make a significant difference on how people approach their jobs on Wall Street."

    Others are dubious that the Rajaratnam verdict will change behavior on Wall Street. While conceding the prosecution was a "wake-up call" and representative of a "new era of enhanced enforcement," Richard Scheff, chairman of the Philadelphia law firm Montgomery McCracken and a former consultant to the assistant secretary of the Treasury for law enforcement in the Clinton administration, says he thought the verdict's actual impact would be less than expected. "My experience is, people don't think they're going to get caught," he said. "There is significant money to be made -- and greed drives behavior."

    The main lingering criticism of Bharara -- one that may need resolution before his elevation -- is that the new sheriff of Wall Street has brought no criminal or civil cases against the bankers whose actions helped cause and exacerbate the financial crisis. Critics find this unacceptable. "The civil charges that should be brought [against Wall Street] are there screaming out to be brought," former New York governor and attorney general Eliot Spitzer said on CNN. "And the fact that it hasn't been done yet is really staggering." Spitzer was the public voice for a chorus that still echoes privately in homes around the country and outside of Wall Street (and in Inside Job director Charles Ferguson's plea in his Academy Awards acceptance speech).

    The Southern District flatly rejects this assessment. The absence of charges, they say, does not mean the absence of hard work investigating the piles of evidence to see if criminal charges should be brought and if they can be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Complicating matters is the fact that, by law, the existence of grand jury investigations is to be kept confidential, and prosecutors are not permitted to share evidence that would reveal why an indictment was not sought. Barofsky, for one, is sympathetic to that argument. "I have that same intuitive disgust at the fact that we haven't seen higher-profile cases," he told Fortune. "But as a former prosecutor, without seeing the evidence that they saw, it almost could be unfair of me to make a judgment."

What the future holds

    So where does Bharara go from here? The party line is that being U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York is his dream job and that he won't use it as a stepping stone to higher office. "Preet loves his job and has no desire to run for public office now or ever," his senior press adviser, Ellen Davis, said on his behalf after the Rajaratnam verdict. Nevertheless, his friends seem to think he would make a great attorney general or federal judge, perhaps even a Supreme Court Justice. They marvel at his ability to connect with people, and think he would be able to win elective office, even if he has expressed little interest in wanting to mount a political campaign. They also talk about his quite natural desire to one day earn more money. He does, after all, have three children whom he wants to educate the way he was educated. Since he has earned around $150,000 a year in his various public-sector jobs for the past few years, they say he is not immune -- when the time comes -- to the lure of a partnership in a private law firm, where someone of Bharara's stature could earn millions a year.

    In the meantime, Bharara can be sustained by his knowledge that he is trying valiantly to right injustice -- while retaining his sense of humor. Ben Lawsky remembers the day in 2004 when a case he and Bharara had been working on against the Mafia came to a head. Thirty members of the Mafia were arrested on a single morning; Lawsky and Bharara had to negotiate 30 bail packages. As the arrests went down, Bharara, the lead prosecutor, placed calls to mob lawyers representing the criminals. When the secretary answered, he asked to speak to the lawyer involved.

    "This is Preet Bharara and Ben Lawsky calling," he said.

    "Pete?" the assistant asked.

    "Preet!" Bharara responded.

    "Peter? Preeter? Prep?" replied the flummoxed assistant.

    Lawsky says this went on and on. Finally, he says, "on the fifth call, the woman picks up, and [Bharara] looks at me with sort of a wry smile and says, 'Is so-and-so there?' She says, 'Yes, who's calling?' And he just looks at me, winks, and goes, 'Ben Lawsky.'"

    People who know Bharara well are undoubtedly familiar with his wisecracking ways. But they belie a fierce ambition and an obsession to root out injustice on Wall Street and beyond. Whether his future holds further public office or a shift to the private sector, the "other" Bharara son has already earned himself a place in the history books.

    --William D. Cohan is a Fortune contributor and author of Money and Power, a new book on Goldman Sachs

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