Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lehman Probe Stalls; Chance of No Charges

Via Wall Street Journal (H/T Truth on the Market).
The U.S. government's investigation into the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. has hit daunting hurdles that could result in no civil or criminal charges ever being filed against the company's former executives, people familiar with the situation said.
In recent months, Securities and Exchange Commission officials have grown increasingly doubtful they can prove that Lehman violated U.S. laws by using an accounting maneuver to move as much as $50 billion in assets off its balance sheet, which made it appear that the securities firm had reduced its debt levels.
SEC officials also aren't confident they could win any lawsuit accusing former Lehman employees, including former Lehman Chief Executive Richard Fuld Jr., of failing to adequately mark down the value of the large real-estate portfolio acquired in Lehman's takeover of apartment developer Archstone-Smith Trust or to disclose the resulting losses to investors, according to people familiar with the matter.
...
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment on Lehman. In a statement, she said the agency "will continue to root out financial fraud wherever it exists. When we find credible evidence of criminal conduct—by Wall Street financiers, lawyers, accountants or others—we will aggressively pursue justice. However, we can and will only bring charges when the facts and the law convince us that we can prove a crime beyond a reasonable doubt."
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