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U.S. seeks records on NY-NJ Port Authority chairman: reports

U.S.Attorney Preet Bharara speaks to media during a press conference announcing two felony charges against JPMorgan Chase Bank during a pres
U.S.Attorney Preet Bharara speaks to media during a press conference announcing two felony charges against JPMorgan Chase Bank during a pres

(Reuters) - Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for records regarding the business dealings of the agency's chairman, David Samson, according to media reports on Monday.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is interested in particular in any potential conflicts of interest between Samson's role as chairman and his private law firm, Wolff & Samson, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing anonymous sources.

Pressure has been building on Samson, an appointee of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, since his name surfaced in documents related to September lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, which caused gridlock over four days as an alleged act of political retribution against a New Jersey mayor.

Federal prosecutors and state lawmakers in New Jersey are conducting separate investigations into the lane closures. The probes have thrust Christie, his leadership style and his allies at the Port Authority into the spotlight.

The New York Times also reported the new probe on Monday, but said it was unclear why federal prosecutors in New York had issued subpoenas when the lane closures were being investigated in New Jersey.

A spokesman for the Port Authority had no immediate comment.

When asked for comment, a spokeswoman for Samson referred to a statement from Samson's attorney, Michael Chertoff, who said: "We are not commenting on the progress of investigations."

"There continues to be a good deal of erroneous coverage of matters pertinent to my client," he added. "That will become evident in due course."

Critics have called on Samson to resign. Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye, who runs day-to-day operations at the massive bi-state agency, last month claimed that Samson lacked the moral authority to remain in his post.

The next day, Christie defended his appointee, saying he backed Samson "strongly and firmly."

(Reporting by Hilary Russ, editing by G Crosse)

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