Ben Lawsky is the former head of the New York State Department of Financial Services. He assumed that role when the department was formed on October 3, 2011, appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for whom he was previously chief of staff.
In May of 2015 he announced he would step down from the post and start his own consulting and legal firm. 
In his role at the Dept. of Financial Services, Lawsky supervises insurance companies, New York State-chartered depository institutions and many foreign banking institutions in New York. He is also responsible for the regulation of mortgage brokers, mortgage bankers, check cashers, money transmitters, budget planners, and other financial services companies in New York. He is also the special assistant to the attorney general at the New York Attorney General's office.
News stories at the time commented on the conflicting roles Lawsky assumed with the opening of the Department of Financial Services. In an interview with Bloomberg, he said, "Being a better consumer-protection agency and fraud detector, while keeping New York the financial center of the world, aren’t necessarily contradictory, but doing this well requires a delicate balance that’s hard to achieve.”
He became a scourge to Wall Street, bringing cases against Deutsche Bank, Standard Chartered and PricewaterhouseCoopers and extracting large fines from some of the big banks, including a $485 million penalty from Barclays over manipulation of foreign exchange markets.
In 2012 he threatened to revoke Standard Chartered Plc’s license to operate in New York after growing frustrated with the slow pace of settlement talks over sanctions violations. Lawsky went against other authorities, including the Manhattan District Attorney's office, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and the Justice Department, in issuing a public letter in August of 2012 outlining Standard Chartered’s questionable transactions and demanding to know why he shouldn’t revoke its license.
Standard Chartered settled with Lawsky that month for $340 million and agreed to hire a monitor. The company settled with the other regulators four months later for $327 million. Lawsky also engineered the partial suspension of Paris-based BNP Paribas SA’s dollar-clearing operations in New York as part of a $8.97 billion settlement for sanctions violations in June 2012.
Lawsky served as chief of staff for Cuomo from January 2007 to October 2011, just prior to his appointment as superintendent. Cuomo was previously New York's attorney general, and Lawsky was his deputy counselor and special assistant during that time. Lawsky was Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2001 to 2007, responsible for cases involving white collar crime, organized crime and/or terrorism.
Early in his career, he was chief counsel to Senator Charles Schumer on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He began as a trial attorney in the civil division of the Department of Justice from 1997 to 1999.
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