Officials at the SEC have begun to doubt that the agency can prove that executives of the now-defunct Lehman Brothers investment bank broke the law after the company allegedly moved billions of dollars off its balance sheet.
If Lehman Brothers executives do escape prosecution, it will only add to a long list of Wall Street wheeler-dealers who have found a way to avoid punishment. —JCL
A government probe into the fall of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc has hit so many snags that enforcement officials fear they may never be able to bring civil or criminal charges against company executives, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.
According to the paper, Securities and Exchange Commission officials have begun to doubt they can prove that Lehman broke U.S. laws by moving nearly $50 billion in assets off its balance sheet to make it appear that the securities firm had lowered its debt burden.
Quoting people familiar with the situation, the Journal said SEC officials are also worried they might not win any lawsuit against former Lehman Chief Executive Richard Fuld Jr accusing him of improperly accounting for the value of a large real estate portfolio acquired with the takeover of Archstone-Smith Trust, or to hide losses to investors related to that deal.