FBI probes finance giants for fraud

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) confirmed on Wednesday that it is probing allegations of fraud by 24 Wall Street firms, without naming investment giants believed to be under investigation.

“The director and others have confirmed the number of investigations that we currently have, but we haven’t named any of the companies,” a FBI spokesperson said.

“The director last week indicated that there are 24 corporate fraud investigations involving the subprime industry,” he added.

US media said late on Tuesday that the FBI has set its sights on investment titan Lehman Brothers, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and insurer AIG.

The wide-reaching inquiry comes as lawmakers rush to agree a $700-billion government bail-out of the troubled US financial sector.

The FBI probe aims to determine whether company executives had any responsibility for the institutions’ financial woes through “misinformation or material misinformation”, CNN said.

FBI director Robert Mueller said last week the bureau was probing 24 financial institutions, but gave no details other than to describe them as “large corporations” that may face allegations of misstated assets.

ABC News said the probe was “multifaceted and the net is much deeper than the major firms [that] officials confirmed”, adding the probe had expanded from 14 major firms to 26 in less than a year.

“The FBI currently has 26 pending corporate fraud investigations involving subprime lenders,” FBI spokesperson Richard Kolko told ABC.

“As we have seen, this number can fluctuate over time; however, we do not discuss which companies may or may not be the subject of an investigation.” — AFP

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