For the second time in two years, a key member of the team at the New York state attorney general’s office that uncovered major conflicts of interest on Wall Street and extracted a $1.4 billion settlement from 10 large investment banks has gone over to the other side.
Bear Stearns Cos. announced Wednesday that it had hired Beth L. Golden, head of special projects for Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer, to head the firm’s global compliance department.
Last year, Eric R. Dinallo, head of investor protection in Spitzer’s office, left to head the regulatory unit at Morgan Stanley.
Golden played a key role in 2002 in drafting changes in how Wall Street firms, including Bear Stearns, separate their research and investment-banking divisions.
Bear Stearns and nine other firms agreed to enact the changes and pay the $1.4 billion to settle charges that they misled investors with biased research reports intended to generate investment-banking fees.
Golden also worked on settlements with several mutual fund companies accused of allowing professional investors to trade in and out of individual funds in ways that harmed long-term investors. Bear Stearns still faces investigations into whether it helped hedge fund Canary Capital Partners LLC make illegal fund trades.
Golden is barred for two years from having any professional dealings with Spitzer’s office; she will be barred for life from working on cases she handled there.
Jacob S. Frenkel, a former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer who is in private practice, said that despite the restrictions it makes sense for Wall Street to recruit lawyers from Spitzer’s staff because the lawyers understand the attorney general’s approach and can help explain the Martin Act, the tough New York anti-fraud statute that Spitzer has used to great effect.
“Any time Wall Street firms have a shot at adding senior regulators to their staff, they jump,” Frankel said. “Mr. Spitzer’s unprecedented level of involvement in the securities industry makes the state law enforcement credential an added premium.”
In an interview, Golden said Bear Stearns hired her not for her knowledge of Spitzer and New York state law but for her ability to think creatively about complex problems.