Despite the arrest last week of a former Federal Reserve Bank of New York examiner on charges that he stole confidential bank documents, experts said the industry has little to fear from this type of crime.
"This is incredibly rare," said Karen Shaw Petrou, president of the industry consulting firm ISD/Shaw Inc. "The kind of people who become bank examiners are by personality and temperament not likely to go over the wall and commit crimes."
"This is a freak occurrence," agreed Diane M. Casey, national director of financial services at Grant Thornton. "This is not something for banks to worry about."
A Nov. 4 complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan alleged that Mauricio Garzon had stolen confidential risk-management manuals from Chase Manhattan Bank and J.P. Morgan & Co. He then quit his job as a New York Fed examiner to work for Fuji Bank, where he created a risk-management manual based on the stolen documents, the government charged.
Mr. Garzon, who has not yet entered a plea, was released last week on $100,000 bail, a court official said. Mr. Garzon lives in Manhattan but could not be reached to comment.
New York Fed General Counsel Thomas C. Baxter said the reserve bank fully supports the prosecution. "We insist on integrity," he said. "We make every effort to ensure that anyone breaching our trust is prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
If convicted, Mr. Garzon faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
The New York Fed hired Mr. Garzon in February 1993. He worked on a March 1997 exam of Chase and on August 1996 and 1997 exams of J.P. Morgan, the government said. In both exams, the banks turned over sensitive documents explaining how they manage risks, the government said. Mr. Garzon resigned Dec. 1, 1997, after being hired by Fuji to be vice president for risk management.
In October, an employee at Fuji bank tipped off the Fed that Mr. Garzon was using confidential Chase and J.P. Morgan documents to create a risk- management policy for the Japanese bank. The government then wired a Fuji employee who recorded Mr. Garzon as saying the Chase documents were "highly proprietary" and urging his colleagues to lock them up or take them home during an upcoming exam, the government said. It also said passages in the Fuji manual mirror passages in the Chase and J.P. Morgan documents.