Bear Fraud Probe Grows To Banks, Lenders

Oct 8 2008 | 8:39am ET

Bear Stearns may be no more, but the federal investigation into the collapse of two of its hedge funds is alive and well, and growing.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, N.Y.—who are prosecuting the hedge funds’ former managers for fraud—along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, have expanded the probe to the activities of banks and lenders to the High-Grade Structured Credit Fund and a more highly-levered sister fund, to determine if those institutions, along with the fund’s investors, were also defrauded. They are also looking at private financial memoranda to see if the firm defrauded wealthy investors.

Last month, federal prosecutors said during a court hearing that they expect to bring additional charges against Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin in December. The two are accused of misleading investors about the condition of the two hedge funds, which had heavy exposure to subprime mortgage-backed securities. Both men faces decades in prison if they are convicted.

One of the potentially defrauded banks in question is Barclays, which has already sued Bear over losses in the hedge funds. In the Securities and Exchange Commission’s wider civil case against Cioffi and Tannin, filed at the same time as their criminal indictments, the agency accuses the two of using “Bank No. 1”—reportedly Barclays—to lever its investments.

Cioffi and Tannin have proclaimed their innocence.


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