Benjamin Lawsky

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Benjamin M. Lawsky
Benjamin Lawsky picture.jpg
New York State's Superintendent of Financial Services
In office
Governor Andrew Cuomo
Preceded by Position created
Succeeded by Anthony J Albanese (acting)
Personal details
Born (1970-04-14) April 14, 1970 (age 47)
San Diego, California
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Jessica Roth
Alma mater Columbia College
Columbia Law School
Profession Lawyer

Benjamin M. Lawsky (born April 14, 1970)[1] is an American attorney and New York State's first Superintendent of Financial Services[2] serving through June, 2015, and former Acting Superintendent of Banks[3] serving through 2011.


Lawsky was born near a Navy base in San Diego, California, but grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with a twin sister. His mother was a computer systems analyst for the Mellon Bank and his father a radiologist.

Lawsky is a graduate of Columbia Law School and Columbia College. He married attorney Jessica Roth in 2002.[4]


Lawsky was until 2001 the chief counsel, in Washington, to Senator Charles E. Schumer. Lawsky was also previously Governor Andrew Cuomo's Chief of Staff. He has also been assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York and a special assistant to then-Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo.

Superintendent of Financial Services[edit]

The New York State Legislature unanimously confirmed Lawsky on May 24, 2011 as New York State's first Superintendent of Financial Services.[5] From May 24, 2011 until October 3, 2011, Lawsky was appointed, and served as, Acting Superintendent of Banks for the former New York State Banking Department, in which position he led Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's initiative to consolidate the New York State Banking Department and New York State Insurance Department towards a new financial regulator called the Department of Financial Services (DFS).[5]

He investigated Standard Chartered Bank and accused the bank of conducting secret money laundering transactions with Iran,[6] triggering a 23.5% drop in share price.[7] On August 14, 2012, Standard Chartered Bank agreed to pay a fine of $340 million (£220 million) to the New York State Department of Financial Services, conceding that $14 million in financial transactions involving Iranian parties were in violation of U.S. banking laws.[8] On June 18, 2013, the Department announced that Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP (“Deloitte FAS”) was fined $10 million and banned from advising banks in New York for one year after accusing the firm of watering down a report about money-laundering controls at Standard Chartered.[9]

On September 11, 2013, Lawsky's office announced that New York State would opt out of an agreement on new capital reserve standards for the life insurance industry. In a letter to other states' insurance regulators, Lawsky said that recent tests of insurance industry accounting practices had revealed "gamesmanship and abuses" regarding assessment of insurers' liquid reserves and leveraging practices.[10]

He is noted for targeting individuals within the financial sector who commit wrongdoing, and not merely handing out fines to the companies they work for, an approach he explains as follows: "Corporations are a legal fiction. You have to deter bad individual conduct within corporations. People who did the conduct are going to be held accountable."[11]

As Superintendent of Financial Services, he was paid an annual salary of $127,000.[12]

Lawsky announced in May 2015 that he would be stepping down the following month to launch his own legal and consulting firm. The New York Times reviewed his "polarizing" tenure positively, saying that the state's banks would not miss the Columbia graduate, he having "threatened to pull their licenses, fined them hundreds of millions of dollars and forced dozens of their employees to resign."[13] Lawsky garnered multiple awards and distinctions during his four years as bank regulator, including as one of Foreign Policy's 'Top 100 Global Thinkers' and Bloomberg Markets' '50 Most Influential in Global Finance'.[2]

According to the New York Times, Lawsky has a business relationship with Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese company with "byzantine ownership structure" and "deep ties to the Chinese state". He has introduced Anbang to Kushner Companies led by Jared Kushner, a son-in-law of the US President Donald Trump.[14]


  1. ^ a b "Weddings; Jessica Roth, Benjamin Lawsky". 28 April 2002. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services". Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  3. ^ New York State Banking Department, retrieved August 8, 2012, at NYS Banking Department website[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Personal biodata
  5. ^ a b "Mission, About Us, New York State Department of Financial Services", retrieved August 8, 2012, at New York State Department of Financial Services official website, ibid.
  6. ^ "Regulator Says British Bank Helped Iran Hide Deals", retrieved on August 8, 2012, at New York Times website
  7. ^ "Standard Chartered Shares Drop 23.5 Percent On Iran Money-Laundering Allegations", retrieved August 8, 2012, at /Huffington Post website
  8. ^ "Standard Chartered to pay $340m fine to New York Bank Regulator," at
  9. ^ 2 Consultants to Banking Industry Come Under Scrutiny, New York Times, retrieved September 13, 2013, at [1]
  10. ^ New York Regulator Sees Abuse Increasing Under New Insurance Rules, New York Times, retrieved September 13, 2013, at [2]
  11. ^ Scannell, Kara (9 March 2014). "Lawsky to step up assault on Wall Street's corporate wrongdoing". Retrieved 10 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Liz Rappaport, Wall Street's New Watcher, The Wall Street Journal, retrieved August 8, 2012, at
  13. ^ Silver-Greenberg, Jessica; Protessm, Ben (20 May 2015). "Benjamin Lawsky, Sheriff of Wall Street, Is Taking Off His Badge". Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  14. ^ Craig, Susanne; Becker, Jo; Drucker, Jesse (7 January 2017). "Jared Kushner, a Trump In-Law and Adviser, Chases a Chinese Deal". Retrieved 7 January 2017. 

External links[edit]