The New York State Attorney General's office has doubled the amount of money it won in fines and restitution last year, thanks to a number of multimillion-dollar settlements with firms on Wall Street.
Eliot Spitzer's office won $786 million last year in judgments and settlements â the highest ever â up from $352 million the year before, the Wall Street Journal reported.
"As a result of the office's activities, more than half a billion dollars will be returned to individual New Yorkers, and another $250 million will go to the state's coffers, which will reduce the tax burden on state residents and businesses," Spitzer said in a statement.
Spitzer's high-profile investigations of Wall Street firms account for about $418 million, but cases were not limited to mutual funds and investment firms.
Big and small cases were investigated all over the state. For example, Household Finance, a mortgage lender, paid more than $37 million to borrowers after being accused to overcharging them. A health club chain that closed in western New York without giving refunds of prepaid memberships was forced to provide them. A Queens travel agency that also closed its doors abruptly was forced to repay customers who had paid for overseas trips.
Spitzer's successes have made him well-known not only in New York, but across the country, prompting speculation that he may run for governor or become a U.S. attorney general if Sen. John Kerry is elected president.