Neil M. Barofsky (born 1970) is a partner in the Litigation Department of national law firm Jenner & Block LLP; focuses his practice on white collar investigations, complex commercial litigation, monitorships and examinerships. Immediately before joining Jenner & Block, Mr. Barofsky was Senior Fellow at New York University School of Law’s Center on the Administration of Criminal Law, an adjunct professor at the law school and affiliated with the Mitchell Jacobson Leadership Program on Law and Business. He was SIGTARP, the Special United States Treasury Department Inspector General overseeing the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), from late 2008 until his resignation at the end of March 2011, previous to which he was Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2000 to 2008.
Barofsky completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a bachelors degree in economics from Wharton School of Business. He graduated with honors from New York University School of Law in 1995.
Troubled Asset Relief Program and Special Inspector Generalship
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Barofsky, "[a] life-long Democrat who donated money to the Obama campaign," was nominated for the job of overseeing the TARP by President George W. Bush on November 14, 2008 and was confirmed by the United States Senate on December 8, 2008, after confirmation was delayed by Senator Jim Bunning.
Until he was confirmed, the role was handled internally by the Treasury Department's inspector general, Eric Thorson, who has expressed concerns about the difficulty of properly overseeing the complex program in addition to his regular responsibilities.
As Inspector General, Barofsky was "one of the most impressive and courageous political officials in Washington" for his willingness to "stand up to some of the most powerful people and institutions in Washington or on Wall Street." He "vigilantly fought for his independence as TARP watchdog and has been relentless in his criticism of Treasury officials and especially Tim Geithner." The TARP program money was used to invest in and in some cases rescue a number of banks, the automakers GM and Chrysler, the insurance company AIG as well as a number of housing companies. The role of chief watchdog of the government’s $700 billion TARP program was to root out and prosecute waste, fraud and abuse. Under Barofsky the office published 9 quarterly results and 13 audits.
On February 14, 2011 Barofsky sent a letter to President Obama stating that he would resign his post on March 30, 2011, to spend more time with his family. At the time of his resignation his office had more than 140 investigations underway and his office has charged a few dozen people with civil or criminal fraud, resulting in 14 convictions for fraud, more than $550 million in fraud losses avoided, and $150 million in fraudulent earnings recovered for taxpayers. "[O]ne Treasury official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak more candidly, was quoted as saying '[H]e's been consistently wrong about a lot of big things." Commentator Glenn Greenwald noted the unnamed official had made the assertion about Barofsky "without identifying a single alleged error," and attacked the "utter cowardice and lack of professionalism needed to produce this passage" on the part of both the newspaper and the official.
- Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street (2012). ISBN 9781451684933 OCLC 793575355
- Burke, Kerry; Siemaszko, Corky (November 15, 2008). "Bush picks New York prosecutor Neil Barofsky to oversee $700B bailout". New York Daily News. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
- Greenwald, Glenn (2011-02-15) Standard Washington cowardice, Salon.com
- Paley, Amit R. (November 13, 2008). "Bailout Lacks Oversight Despite Billions Pledged". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
- Roland, Neil. "TARP cop ratchets up restrictions on rescue cash". Financial Week. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
- "Bush names bailout overseer". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. November 15, 2008. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
- Walsh, Mary Williams (January 25, 2010). "An Investigator Presses to Uncover Bailout Abuse". The New York Times. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
- Protess, Ben (February 14, 2011). "Barofsky Stepping Down as Watchdog of TARP". The New York Times.
- Dennis, Brady, Neil Barofsky, TARP's outspoken overseer, will resign", Washington Post, February 14, 2011 8:30 PM ET. Retrieved 2011-02-18.