Newspaper article International New York Times

Wall St. Prosecutor Leaves to Join Law Firm ; Jeffrey Knox Led Unit That Took on Some of the World's Largest Banks

Newspaper article International New York Times

Wall St. Prosecutor Leaves to Join Law Firm ; Jeffrey Knox Led Unit That Took on Some of the World's Largest Banks

Article excerpt

Jeffrey H. Knox, the chief of the Justice Department's fraud unit, is the latest in a long line of federal prosecutors to move to the private sector.

Jeffrey H. Knox, a senior federal prosecutor who butted heads with a number of Wall Street banks, is switching sides.

The United States Justice Department announced on Tuesday that Mr. Knox, chief of its fraud section, is leaving the government. In turn, the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett released its own announcement: Mr. Knox will join the firm as a partner in Washington.

The move by Mr. Knox, who spent more than a decade as a prosecutor, comes just as one of his biggest Wall Street cases is nearing a turning point. The Justice Department, along with regulators in Washington and London, is closing in on actions against some of the world's biggest banks, suspected of manipulating foreign currencies.

Those looming actions from the fraud section -- an arm of the Justice Department's criminal division in Washington -- echo another recent crackdown. Over the last two years, the fraud section took aim at Barclays, UBS and other giant banks accused of manipulating the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, the global interest rate benchmark for credit cards and other loans.

"With a section as large and successful as ours," Mr. Knox said, "there's never a perfect time to go." He added, however, that "I have all the confidence in the world" that the section will build "even bigger cases down the road."

Mr. Knox is the latest in a long line of federal prosecutors to spin through the so-called revolving door, the symbolic portal through which government lawyers move to the private sector and back again. The criminal division alone has had four leaders in the last 18 months, two of whom left the Justice Department for law firm partnerships.

The exodus speaks to a shift well underway in the legal world, where corporate firms that once turned up their noses at criminal defense are embracing the work as increasingly profitable. …

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