New "Sheriff of Wall Street" Preet Bharara talks SAC Capital, insider trading

(CBS News) Preet Bharara is the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Last month, his prosecutors took the rare step of charging an entire hedge fund, SAC Capital, with insider trading. It's owned by its namesake, Steven A. Cohen, who is not charged.

Asked if it bothers him that Cohen -- known for touting his wealth as investigations into his hedge fund continued -- was not indicted, Bharara replied: "Nothing bothers me. Very little."

He said earlier in the interview -- his first since announcing the indictment: "We bring cases when we have the evidence. And where the law gives us the ability to charge, sometimes, it's the case that individuals can be charged, and that's how you can get accountability. And sometimes, we charge a number of people at that particular place. And sometimes, it's the case that conduct is so pervasive, and there's so much that shouldn't be going on that is going on, that the only way that justice can be done is by indicting the entire institution."

Pressed on evidence about Cohen, Bharara said, "The investigation is ongoing and it's not closed. At this point, we indicted the hedge fund, as I said, at the time that we announced the case, because of the degree and nature and scope of misconduct that had gone on there for a number of years as laid out in great detail in the indictment."

Though Cohen isn't among those who have entered guilty pleas, Bharara said there are six people who have entered guilty pleas concerning misconduct while employed at SAC Capital, and two others are pending trial. He added, "There were other people not identified by name in the indictment who were also alleged to have committed insider trading activity. When you have that number of people ... the scope and pervasiveness of the insider trading that went on at this particular place is unprecedented in the history of hedge funds. When you have that kind of activity, an indictment of the entire institution seems appropriate."

As for Cohen -- and what evidence may remain to be found -- Bharara said, "When there is evidence that there's something bad going on at any institution, we investigate it. The FBI investigates it with us. And when there is a parallel proceeding, the SEC is also taking a look at it. And when we find evidence of a particular nature that we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt against any individual, high or low, we bring the case. And as I said, the case remains open."

On the larger issue at stake here -- insider trading -- it's an issue Bharara called "pervasive."

"It's in every sector, the health care sector, it's in the tech sector," he said. "It is geographically diverse, it's on the West Coast, it's on the East Coast. It's people who are insiders at companies. It's people who are at hedge funds. It's people who are at expert networking firms. ... The cost to the system is that people lose faith and confidence in market. I think people are very tired of there being people who have lots and lots of money, sometimes billions of dollars, who don't play by the same rules as everyone else.

"In this country, whether it's in Wall Street or in Albany or anywhere else, there is one set of rules and everyone has to follow those rules. If people don't like the rules they can write to their congressmen. But the rules are the rules. And I think people are right to be upset by the fact that some people think that they can be so blase about it and so casual about it and so cavalier about it that they can do what they want. Law enforcement has a role to play in making sure that people are playing by the same set of rules."

Bharara is now being called the "Sheriff of Wall Street." It's a nickname that former N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer held as New York State Attorney General. But Bharara acknowledged the limitations of his position. "Prosecutors can only do so much," he said. "We have a pretty blunt instrument. We can indict a person; we can indict, sometimes, an institution like a hedge fund; but if you actually want to get a culture of corruption to be corrected whether it's at a financial institution or a manufacturing company, or broadly on Wall Street or Albany, you actually need the people who are there, the people who are the compliance offices, people in the general council offices, shareholders, all to care about the culture so that it improves."

For more with Bharara, watch his full interview above.