NY attorney general names new investor-protection chief

Reuters

By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK, Oct 16 (Reuters) - New York Attorney General EricSchneiderman on Wednesday named a new chief for his office'sInvestor Protection Bureau, which is probing abuses by WallStreet banks in the sale of mortgage-backed securities beforethe financial crisis.

Chad Johnson, 46, a veteran securities lawyer who joined theattorney general's office last year, replaces Marc Minor, whoresigned after holding the position from March 2011 throughAugust.

In recent weeks, Johnson has represented the New Yorkattorney general in negotiations with JPMorgan Chase & Co over government mortgage probes, according to a personfamiliar with those negotiations who is not authorized to speakpublicly about the matter.

The discussions also include the U.S. Department of Justice,Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Housing andUrban Development.

New York's participation stems from Schneiderman'sappointment as co-chair of a working group formed by PresidentBarack Obama in January 2012 to investigate misconduct inmortgage securities that contributed to the financial crisis.

Schneiderman brought the 11working group's first lawsuitlast October, suing JPMorgan in state court over allegedimproper sales of pools of home loans by Bear Stearns in 2006and 2007.

His Investor Protection Bureau brought a similar lawsuitagainst Credit Suisse Group AG in November.

In an interview on Wednesday, Johnson declined to comment onthe negotiations with JPMorgan.

He said the bureau was continuing to probe the early releaseof market-moving information. The investigation, which he hasbeen overseeing, includes Thomson Reuters, the parentcompany of Reuters, and other companies.

"The bureau has a broad mission to look out for theinterests of investors," Johnson said. "The attorney general hasmade clear that, among other things, he is focused on the factthat some companies are involved in the early release of marketmoving information to a select few."

Schneiderman has said the practice gave an unfair advantageto high-speed traders who execute huge volumes of trades.

While the probe continues, Thomson Reuters has agreed tostop giving high-frequency traders a two-second jump onUniversity of Michigan consumer data. The company has said itbelieves the practice was legal and it did nothing wrong.

Johnson said the investigation also includes "efforts togain early access to analysts' sentiments."

Johnson joined the New York attorney general's office lastyear as a senior trial counsel and later became a deputyattorney general. He graduated from Harvard Law School and theUniversity of Michigan.

Until 2012, he was a partner at Bernstein Litowitz Berger &Grossman, where he represented both institutional investors andindividual shareholders in securities fraud and corporategovernance litigation.

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