The Business On...Eric Schneiderman, New York Attorney General


The Sheriff of Wall Street?

As the state of New York's chief legal officer, he is indeed in charge of pursuing wrongdoers in finance. His predecessor Andrew Cuomo, who used the role as a springboard to the governor's office, and before him Eliot Spitzer, both became national figures because of their battles with the big banks.



Are they Schneiderman's role models?

Schneiderman actually wants to spend more time rooting out political corruption. In his prior life as a private-sector lawyer, defending Wall Street banks was one of his jobs. In an interview last year he said: "The overwhelming majority of the actors in financial services are good people just trying to make money for themselves and for their clients."



Aha, a friend of the bankers'?

Er, no, actually. For starters, he is tight with the unions, as any Democrat politician who wants to get elected in New York must be. His ex-wife, with whom he has one daughter, was a lobbyist for the services sector union.



And?

It has just emerged he embarked on an investigation of banks' mortgage securitisation businesses prior to the credit crisis.



What's emerged?

At this stage, the investigation is early. Schneiderman has made contact with three firms – Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs – asking for documents on how they pooled together mortgages for sale to investors, and whether they were misleading people on the quality of the mortgages. Which we all now know turned out to be toxic.



More charges and fines forthe banks, then?

Too early to tell in this particular case, but what is certain is that the new sheriff in town is going to be just as tough as the old ones. Remember the name Eric Schneiderman; you'll be hearing more from him.

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