The “Sheriff of Wall Street” is leaving town and many in the global capital of the financial industry are not sorry to see him go. In specific, senior New York State regulator Benjamin Lawsky announced on Wednesday he will be leaving government to start his own legal and consulting firm.
Benjamin Lawsky, a no nonsense ex-federal prosecutor, released a statement confirming he planned to leave his position as the New York Department of Financial Service’s overseer of banking and insurance by the end of June, marking the end of a four-year tenure that brought financial regulation back to the headlines in New York. Lawsky moved forward with cases against financial institutions such as Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and others and cemented his reputation as the new sheriff of Wall Street. While he was much loved by American progressives, Lawsky was not a popular figure in the financial industry, and his zeal to prosecute offenders was seen as a a move to hog the spotlight by some of his fellow regulators.
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More on Benjamin Lawsky’s tenure at NY DFS
Of note, Benjamin Lawsky’s departure from the Department of Financial Services was announced on the same day that he filed one last enforcement action, a case against UK bank Barclays for manipulating foreign currencies. Benjamin Lawsky’s case resulted in a large settlement and forced the bank to dismiss several employees involved in the potentially criminal activities.
These high-profile cases pushed Benjamin Lawsky into the public spotlight, and he was not shy about it. In 2013, New York newspaper The Village Voice had a cover illustration of “Johnny Lawsky” wearing a cowboy hat and sheriff’s badge. Other portraits were not so flattering. When Lawsky released plans to regulate virtual currencies, an image of him seated atop the “Game of Thrones” locus of power with the caption “Hail King Lawsky” was circulating online.
The FT reports that Lawsky plans to open his own practice.
Statement from Lawsky
“I am deeply proud of the work our team has done building this new agency and helping strengthen oversight of the financial markets,” Benjamin Lawsky commented in Wednesday’s statement.
Benjamin Lawsky has spent his entire legal career as a government employee, but according to knowledgeable sources, he plans to open his own firm as well as become a member of the faculty at at Stanford University.
Potential replacements for Lawsky
Benjamin Lawsky’s departure has already set off speculation about who might succeed him as DFS overseer. New York Times sources say the names of possible contenders include Michele Hirshman, an ex-federal prosecutor and currently a partner at Paul Weiss; Hector Gonzalez, another ex-prosecutor who is a partner at Dechert; Marshall L. Miller, a Justice Department official; and Jonathan Schwartz, an ex-JPMorgan Chase executive currently the general counsel of Univision. Others note that Bridget M. Healy, ING’s chief legal executive in the U.S., is also thought to be candidate.