As The Crisis Deepens, More Attention is Being Paid To Financial Fraud;
By Danny Schechter, Author of The Crime Of Our Time
A Cavalcade ofU.S. Corruption Is Finally Being Scrutinized
The "F Word" (for fraud) is back in polite conversation on Wall Street. Fraud and financial crime are slowly becoming part of the debate over what must be done to restrore confidence in what has so plainly been a confidence game.
Drilling for oil has knocked financial reform out of the headlines but among commentators, a concern with crime and the absence of punishment is being raised again.
First there was Robert Reich, the former Clinton Labor Secretary, a small man with a large and insistent voice. He's practically spitting because he's so pissed off with the inaction, asking where has the SEC been--not the Bush SEC which blew the Madoff probe but the Obama appointees:
"It's now clear Lehman Brothers' balance sheet was bogus before the bank collapsed in 2008, catapulting the Street and the world into the worse financial crisis since 1929. The Lehman bankruptcy examiner's recent report details what just about everyone on the Street has known since the firm imploded - that Lehman defrauded its investors. Even Hank Paulson, in his recent memoir, referred to Lehman's balance sheet as bogus.
In order to look like it could borrow $30 for every dollar of its own money, Lehman shifted liabilities off its books at the end of each quarter. Its CPA, Ernst and Young, approved of this fraud against the advice of its own whistle blower, whom Ernst and Young fired.
Lehman's practices couldn't have been all that different from those of every other big bank on the Street. After all, they were all competing for the same business, and using many of the same techniques. Lehman was just the first to go under, causing a financial run that led George W. to warn "this sucker could go down" unless the federal government came up with hundreds of billions to bail out the others."