Finally: FBI and SEC investigating Fannie, Freddie, AIG, Lehman and their executives!
FBI is investigating Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and American International Group Inc. as well as 26 other financial institutions for possible accounting misstatements.
FBI is also investigating executives of those corporations as part of a probe into the collapse of the subprime-mortgage market, a senior law- enforcement official said tonight.
The Securities and Exchange Commission is also investigating the companies for civil violations.
Housing lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, as well as insurer AIG were all taken over by the government earlier this month. Lehman filed for bankruptcy. The crisis has led the Bush administration to ask Congress to approve a $700 billion bailout for the financial industry.
The investigations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were recently opened, said the official. The agency had already been looking into allegations concerning Lehman and AIG.
People familiar with the matter said that other companies under FBI investigation include IndyMac Bancorp Inc. and Countrywide Financial Corp., which has since been bought by Bank of America Corp.
FBI Director Robert Mueller, testifying in Congress last week, pledged to ``pursue these cases as far up the corporate chain as necessary to ensure those responsible receive the justice they deserve.''
Fannie and Freddie, as well as AIG, already restated their books earlier this decade and corrected billions of dollars in accounting errors.
Fannie Mae paid a record $400 million fine to the SEC and its regulator in 2006 to settle charges that executives fraudulently used ``cookie jar'' reserves and other accounting gimmicks to hide $10.3 billion in losses from 2002 through 2004 and maximize bonuses.
Freddie paid $125 million in fines in 2003 and restated earnings from 2000 through 2002 after it replaced long-time auditor Arthur Andersen and discovered errors related to derivatives. Regulators accused the company of manipulating its accounting to push of some $5 billion in earnings to future quarters.
Freddie ousted Chief Executive Leland Brendsel in June 2003 and Fannie's Franklin Raines left in December 2004. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates the government-sponsored mortgage companies, seized control of both companies earlier this month after outside examiners found more accounting problems and said their capital cushion was low.
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