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Former New York AG lawyer joins state bank regulator

By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former senior attorney from the New York attorney general's office has gone to work for Benjamin Lawsky, the state banking regulator who took on Britain's Standard Chartered Plc last year.

Maria Filipakis is the fifth lawyer from the office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to join Lawsky's Department of Financial Services since the department was created in October 2011.

Filipakis started last week as executive deputy superintendent for capital markets, according to Matthew Anderson, a department spokesman. She will help the agency regulate new, complex financial products.

Lawsky has been building his team since he became the first Superintendent of Banking Services in 2011, when the department was formed to consolidate the state's banking and insurance departments.

In his first high-profile action, Lawsky last year targeted Standard Chartered for hiding transactions linked to Iran. Some viewed the move as a sign that Lawsky was staking a claim to the title of Wall Street sheriff, a role that has been played by the state attorney general.

Instrumental in Lawsky's move against Standard Chartered was another alumnus of the attorney general's office, Daniel Alter, who joined Lawsky as general counsel in January 2012.

While at the attorney general's office, Alter and Filipakis both worked on an August 2011 motion opposing a proposed $8.5 billion settlement between Bank of America and investors in mortgage-backed securities, calling it unfair to investors. The action raised fraud claims against the trustee for the securities, Bank of New York Mellon, which Schneiderman later dropped.

Standard Chartered agreed to pay $340 million to settle with Lawsky. The Bank of America settlement is still awaiting court approval.

Another senior lawyer, Daniel Sangeap, has also made the move from the attorney general's office to the banking regulator this month. Sangeap worked on Schneiderman's $410 settlement with Ezra Merkin, a fund manager who fed client money into Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme.

Peter Dean, another alumnus of the attorney general's office, joined the Department of Financial Services as deputy general counsel last fall. And Kathryn "Kay" Diaz joined as special counsel to Lawsky in 2011.

Schneiderman hired Virginia Romano, a former federal prosecutor, last spring to continue his probes into abuses by Wall Street banks in the packaging and sale of mortgage-backed securities before the financial crisis.

(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Eddie Evans and Kenneth Barry)

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