If any judge regularly gives Wall Street heartburn, it’s Jed Rakoff, said Michael Rothfeld in The Wall Street Journal. The New York federal judge—“known for his unconventional and often provocative” methods and his “funny, blunt” decisions—has overseen a number of major financial cases this year, including the insider-trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam and a dispute over Madoff funds. Rakoff, 68, has been especially critical of the Securities and Exchange Commission for meting out “what he has described as superficial punishment” to companies accused of fraud. This week, he ordered Citigroup and SEC officials to his courtroom to answer questions about the bank’s proposed $285 million settlement for mortgage securities fraud, demanding to know why the SEC is allowing Citigroup to settle without admitting any wrongdoing.
“One of the more colorful judges” in New York, Rakoff has come to be seen by many as the SEC’s judicial “bête noire,” said Peter Lattman in The New York Times. In 2009, he initially rejected a settlement between the SEC and Bank of America as a “sweetheart deal.” He later approved a revised settlement, but deemed it “half-baked justice at best.” For Rakoff, “such strong language is the norm.”
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