U.S. Prosecutor Overseeing Forex, Libor Probes to Depart

The U.S. Justice Department prosecutor who has overseen probes into the rigging of currency markets and benchmark interest rates is stepping down next month as her replacement awaits Senate approval.

Mythili Raman, 44, a career prosecutor and acting head of the criminal division for the past year, said she’s leaving the department March 21. She makes way for Leslie Caldwell, 56, former head of the department’s Enron Task Force, who was nominated by President Barack Obama for the post.

Her exit probably won’t slow prosecutions because other supervisors can handle the work, said Paul McNulty, a former deputy attorney general in George W. Bush’s administration.

“You hate to lose someone with her experience and capability because it really is extraordinary but things do go on without that person,” McNulty, now a partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP in Washington, said in an interview.

Raman spent 17 years with the department and was chief of staff to predecessor Lanny Breuer. She began a criminal probe into possible manipulation of currency exchange markets by the world’s largest banks.

“Being part of launching and overseeing this enormous investigation has been a unique professional experience and I think a really important point of financial enforcement for the department,” Raman said in an interview.

Raman said that the department is taking a lead role in the that investigation, which centers on possible manipulation of the $5.3 trillion-a-day foreign exchange market. She has trumpeted the use of cooperation agreements with banks including UBS AG and Barclays Plc over rate-rigging to speed up the currency probe.

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She said she won additional resources from Attorney General Eric Holder, such as money for staffing and forensic tools, to bolster the investigation.

Raman oversaw the case against digital currency service Liberty Reserve SA, which officials said is the largest international money-laundering prosecution by the Justice Department. She also supervised an investigation into the credit-card breach at Target Corp.

During Raman’s tenure, the department won three of the 10 largest penalties for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, including Total SA’s $398 million resolution last year and Alcoa Inc.’s $384 million deal in January.

She also announced a $325 million settlement with Rabobank Groep and criminal charges against six individuals for roles in manipulating the London interbank offered rate.

Public Servant

“She’s quiet, she’s effective and fair,” William Baer, who heads the department’s antitrust division, said in an interview. “Those are great qualities in a public servant.”

Raman received attention in November when she and other law-enforcement officials helped bolster Bitcoin’s value by testifying in the Senate that virtual currencies aren’t illegal.

“I feel like I’ve taken good care of the division,” she said.

Raman said she’s considering opportunities in the private sector and academia. She said she chose a departure date that would allow her to spend spring break with her 9-year-old twins.

Veteran prosecutors have left the department in recent months. They include Charles Duross, now head of the anti-corruption practice at Morrison & Foerster LLP; Glenn Leon of Hewlett-Packard Co.; Joey Lipton, who’s at JPMorgan Chase & Co.; and Stephen Spiegelhalter of International Business Machines Corp.

Caldwell, a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in New York, was vetted by the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month. The nomination has yet to be approved by the committee and sent to the full Senate. If she’s not in place when Raman departs, Holder would choose an acting chief for the criminal division.

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