Obama Names Pick for Justice Department Criminal Chief

President Barack Obama has selected Leslie Caldwell as the U.S. Justice Department’s next criminal division chief, according to a White House statement.

Caldwell, a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP and the former head of the department’s Enron Task Force, would be the permanent replacement for Lanny Breuer, who departed in March.

A former assistant U.S. attorney in New York and criminal division chief in a California U.S. attorney’s office, Caldwell in 2002 became the director of the task force investigating the failure of the Houston, Texas-based energy company.

The nomination marks the latest Obama administration effort to fill Senate-confirmable vacancies at the Justice Department. The openings at one point left Attorney General Eric Holder without permanent appointees in at least six top positions.

Caldwell, if confirmed, will take the lead of the country’s top criminal prosecution unit, which includes almost 500 attorneys and has a broad jurisdiction, ranging from public corruption and corporate fraud to organized crime and child sexual exploitation.

The position would mark a return to the department for Caldwell after almost a decade. She left in 2004, after two years leading the Enron task force. Over the four years of its existence, the task force brought charges against 36 defendants, including former chief executive officers Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay and 25 other former Enron executives.

Mythili Raman, a career prosecutor and Breuer’s former chief of staff, has led the division on an acting basis since his departure. Under Raman’s watch, U.S. prosecutors brought the largest money laundering case in the department’s history, charging Liberty Reserve, a digital currency company, in May.

Raman’s prosecutors also secured the first joint international foreign bribery enforcement action with French authorities and continued investigations into banks and traders for the alleged rigging of global interest rates.

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