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Archive: March 2009

Are Bank Execs Next?; The Man Who Brought Down AIG; EPA to Monitor Schools' Air

Are Bank Execs Next? » The Obama administration's display of authority in ousting GM chief executive Rick Wagoner (who reportedly will receive a $20 million retirement package) sent U.S. stocks tumbling and raised questions about whether the government would take similar steps against top executives at U.S. banks that are also receiving government bailout funds. — ABC News, Washington Post

By Amanda Zamora | March 31, 2009; 9:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Blago Campaign 'Hit List' Targeted Burris, Other Senate Candidates

Fundraisers for Rod Blagojevich set their sights on four candidates for Barack Obama's then-vacant senate seat in the months before the ousted Illinois governor's arrest, according to an internal campaign document published Saturday by the Chicago Sun-Times.

By Amanda Zamora | March 30, 2009; 1:15 PM ET | Comments (1)

Star Lobbyist Closes Shop; Bank Walkaways Leave Trail of Headaches; Blame, Acclaim for KB Exec

Star Lobbyist Closes Shop Amid Probe » As Paul Magliocchetti prepares to shut down PMA Group, many on Capitol Hill are wondering who else will be ensnared in the investigation as prosecutors pore over the financial records and computer files of one of K Street's most influential lobbyists. And though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remains opposed to an ethics investigation on the Hill, other Democrats worry that momentum for a congressional probe will grow. — New York Times, Politico

By Amanda Zamora | March 30, 2009; 9:15 AM ET | Comments (0)

Lawyer: Stanford Is No Madoff

Houston criminal defense attorney Dick DeGuerin isn't wasting anytime slamming the Securities and Exchange Commission as he gets down to work for his latest high-profile client. "This is not a Ponzi scheme," DeGuerin said of R. Allen Stanford, who is accused of orchestrating an $8 billion investment fraud scheme along with his chief financial officer, James M. Davis, and chief investment officer, Laura Pendergest-Holt.

By Amanda Zamora | March 26, 2009; 6:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

More Departures at AIG?, DEA's Surveillance Plane Problems, Madoff Spotlight Swings to Brother

More Departures at AIG? » Several more employees are quitting the financial products unit that brought American International Group to its knees last year, according a Reuters source. Executive Jake DeSantis announced his resignation in a letter printed in Wednesday's New York Times, arguing that the employees still working are not the ones who caused the large losses and "are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials." — Reuters

By Amanda Zamora | March 26, 2009; 10:11 AM ET | Comments (0)

'Black Box' Casts Doubt on Buffalo Crash Theory

After two years without crashes, the United States has experienced three major plane crashes in 2009.

By The Editors | March 25, 2009; 5:59 PM ET | Comments (8)

AIG Execs' Bonus Hold-Out, The Pitch for Expanded Powers, DOJ Invokes 'State Secrets

AIG's London Execs 'Hold Out' » Aides for New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo have confirmed that many, if not all, of those who have held on to their bonuses are based in London, where AIG's financial products division has been held responsible for a large portion of the insurer's spectacular losses. — The Times

By Amanda Zamora | March 25, 2009; 10:04 AM ET | Comments (1)

Bernanke Sought Lawsuit Over AIG Bonuses

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified today that he wanted to sue bailout recipient American International Group to stop them from paying $165 million in bonuses, but Fed lawyers advised against litigation. Bernanke's testimony before the House Financial Services Committee comes several days after AIG CEO Edward Liddy told lawmakers that the Fed signed off on the bonuses long before they became public.

By Amanda Zamora | March 24, 2009; 4:26 PM ET | Comments (3)

$50M in AIG Bonuses Returned, Broader Treasury Powers Sought, Bailing Out the Rich

$50M in AIG Bonuses Returned » As the Senate delays action on a punitive tax aimed at AIG bonuses, 18 of the 25 most senior Financial Products executives at insurance firm have agreed to return their retention payments, amounting to more than $50 million of the $165 million in bonuses originally issued. Meanwhile, the Internal Revenus Service is probing the same AIG unit at the center of the bonus controversy. — Washington Post, Reuters

By Amanda Zamora | March 24, 2009; 10:10 AM ET | Comments (0)

After Years-Long Probe, Philly Politician Convicted in Corruption Case

Such is the case with the probe of one of the most powerful Democrats in Pennsylvania -- Vincent J. Fumo. On Friday, a federal court jury in Philadelphia found the 65-year-old former state senator guilty on all 137 counts of conspiracy, fraud, tax offenses and obstruction of justice

By The Editors | March 23, 2009; 5:36 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Plans Exec Pay Overhaul, Tough Rules Leave Top Spots Empty, JPMorgan Plans Jet Purchase

Obama Plans Exec Pay Overhaul » The Obama administration this week will call for increased oversight of executive pay at all banks, Wall Street firms and possibly other companies as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul financial regulation, government officials said. — International Herald Tribune

By Amanda Zamora | March 23, 2009; 9:58 AM ET | Comments (0)

Windfall for Credit Raters?

The big three credit rating companies have been vilified by many in Congress and the business world for their role in the meltdown of the financial system. But that hasn't kept the companies from an unexpected windfall in the latest government plan to unfreeze the flow of money.

By The Editors | March 20, 2009; 1:59 PM ET | Comments (2)

House Passes Bonus Tax Bill, AIG Operated Under Radar, Fury Over Banks' Back Taxes

Under the Radar » The money managers who helped ignite the world financial crisis didn't operate in a gleaming corporate penthouse overlooking New York Harbor, but on a trading floor in a two-story brick office building with a view of a Mobil station. At AIG Financial Products here, the riskiest of business was conducted in the blandest of settings. — USA Today

By Amanda Zamora | March 20, 2009; 9:56 AM ET | Comments (0)

'Forced Out' Exposed the Dark Side of D.C.'s Condo Boom. Have Property Owners Cleaned Up Their Act?

Post Investigations is proud to note that Debbie Cenziper and Sarah Cohen have been awarded the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting for their investigation of D.C. condominium conversions.

By Amanda Zamora | March 19, 2009; 3:00 PM ET | Comments (1)

Madoff the Magus

Now that the 70-year-old Madoff is in jail awaiting sentencing that will no doubt keep him in prison for the rest of his life, a plethora of in-depth magazine investigations into the man are joining the thousands of newspaper articles that have gone before them.

By The Editors | March 19, 2009; 2:02 PM ET | Comments (1)

AIG Under Fire, The Fed's 'Stunning' Silence, Countrywide's Connections

The Fed's 'Stunning' Silence» Federal Reserve officials knew for months about bonuses at American International Group but failed to tell the Obama administration, according to government and company officials, exposing problems in a relationship that is vital to addressing the financial crisis. —Washington Post

By Amanda Zamora | March 19, 2009; 10:14 AM ET | Comments (0)

Wall Street's Refusal to Learn; New Earmark Rules, Same Problems; Feds Target Madoff's Sons

Wall Street's Refusal to Learn » Steve Pearlstein: You have to wonder what else has to go wrong, how much more wealth will need to be destroyed, before the people on Wall Street get the message that it's no longer business as usual. The latest outrage, of course, is over the $400 million in retention bonuses promised to those financial geniuses at AIG's Financial Products unit last year, months before the insurance giant was essentially taken over by the government in a bailout that already has required an injection of $170 billion in taxpayer money. — Washington Post

By Amanda Zamora | March 18, 2009; 10:16 AM ET | Comments (1)

Bonuses Attacked, But What About Bailout?

The bonuses granted to American International Group officials have become a lightning rod for public anger over the past and present excesses of executives in the financial industry.

By The Editors | March 17, 2009; 4:52 PM ET | Comments (7)

AIG Rage Swells, Center Funneled Money to Murtha Supporters, Sentencing in D.C. Tax Scam

AIG Rage » A tidal wave of public outrage over bonus payments swamped American International Group yesterday. Hired guards stood watch outside the suburban Connecticut offices of AIG Financial Products as death threats and angry letters flooded e-mail inboxes inside. More on the AIG bonus fallout: Politico: Grassley Tells Execs: Quite or Suicide, Wall Street Journal: Political Heat Sears AIG; New York Times: Obama Seeks to Undo Bonuses; Los Angeles Times: Bonuses Won't Be Easy to Recover. — Washington Post

By Amanda Zamora | March 17, 2009; 10:09 AM ET | Comments (0)

The Blago Book Race

It appears Chicago journalist Elizabeth Brackett is poised to beat Rod Blagojevich in the race to publish a tell-all account of the embattled ex-governor's fall from grace. While Blagojevich is apparently getting up at 4 a.m. each morning to hammer out "The Governor" in time for an October release, publisher...

By Amanda Zamora | March 16, 2009; 4:22 PM ET | Comments (0)

AIG Pays Millions in Bonuses, Asbestos Allegations at Smithsonian, Red Cross: 'Torture' at CIA Jails

AIG to Pay Millions in Bonuses» American International Group will award hundreds of millions of dollars in employee bonuses and retention pay, despite sharp criticism from Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. Meanwhile, the insurance giant unexpectedly released the names of dozens of trading partners it has paid using more than $75 billion in bailout funds. — Washington Post, New York Times

By Amanda Zamora | March 16, 2009; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

Obama's Technology Czar on the Outs?

The arrest yesterday of a D.C. government official on bribery charges may lead to the quick resignation of President Obama's chief information officer.

By Derek Kravitz | March 13, 2009; 4:48 PM ET | Comments (5)

Anger After Madoff Plea, FBI Raids D.C. Tech Office, Obama's 'Mr. No'

See what else we're reading by subscribing to our GoogleReader feed, or following us on Twitter. Quotable As I engaged in my fraud, I knew what I was doing was wrong, indeed criminal. When I began the Ponzi scheme, I believed it would end shortly and I would be able...

By Amanda Zamora | March 13, 2009; 10:10 AM ET | Comments (0)

Madoff To Be One More Aging White-Collar Con

When Bernard L. Madoff is sentenced in connection with the massive Ponzi scheme he orchestrated, which he pleaded guilty to today, he will join a growing list of aging white-collar criminals who can expect to spend most of their remaining days behind bars in federal prison.

By Derek Kravitz | March 12, 2009; 4:22 PM ET | Comments (1)

Detroit Mayoral Candidate Questioned on Resume

In countless interviews, ex-NBA point guard and Detroit mayoral candidate Dave Bing claimed to have graduated from Syracuse University in 1966 and received a master's in business administration from what was then called the General Motors Institute in Flint, Mich.

By Derek Kravitz | March 12, 2009; 1:49 PM ET | Comments (0)

Madoff Appears in Court, Cuomo Calls Merrill 'Misleading', Fraud Prosecutions Surge

Madoff's Day in Court » As Bernard Madoff prepares to plead guilty to 11 felony charges related to his role in a massive Ponzi scheme, at least 50 of his victims are expected to be in court, awaiting a chance to speak after the disgraced financier enters his plea. — USA Today

By Amanda Zamora | March 12, 2009; 10:08 AM ET | Comments (0)

SEC Moves to Reinstate Rule for Short-Sellers

Created in 1938, toward the end of the Great Depression, and abolished in July 2007 by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, the rule regulated short-selling on Wall Street by only allowing traders to make "short-sales" following a higher bid in a stock price.

By Derek Kravitz | March 11, 2009; 3:56 PM ET | Comments (3)

Madoff Faces Life, Somali Americans Being Recruited and Intelligence Pick Withdraws

See what else we're reading by subscribing to our GoogleReader feed, or following us on Twitter.

By Derek Kravitz | March 11, 2009; 12:57 PM ET | Comments (0)

The Business Scandal Before the Bust

Illegal stock-option backdating occurs when companies fail to disclose the lower-than-market-share prices they offer to executives in federal filings. Executives get in trouble when they agree to buy stock based on a lower price on an earlier date, essentially "backdating" the purchase.

By Derek Kravitz | March 10, 2009; 3:39 PM ET | Comments (2)

First Round of Madoff Relief, FBI Sends SOS in Stanford Case, Conflict Issue for Urban Czar?

See what else we're reading by subscribing to our GoogleReader feed, or following us on Twitter. First Round of Madoff Relief » As 12 victims prepare to receive the first payouts from the trustee in the criminal case against Bernard Madoff, the disgraced financier is expected to appear in court...

By Amanda Zamora | March 10, 2009; 10:27 AM ET | Comments (0)

A Lovesick Mayor And His 'Teenage Fantasy'

More text messages and e-mails to and from former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick were released today, showing the extent of the first "Hip Hop Mayor's" relationship with a former aide and some supportive messages from his mother, a U.S. congresswoman.

By Derek Kravitz | March 9, 2009; 5:51 PM ET | Comments (4)

Report: Madoff Aide Surfaces in Investigation

Fresh details about the Ponzi scheme run by financier Bernard L. Madoff have come to light as Madoff prepares himself for a possible guilty plea in federal court later this week.

By Derek Kravitz | March 9, 2009; 11:10 AM ET | Comments (0)

Pegging Pentagon Earmarks, Panel Questions Overseas Lending, Warnings Ignored in Va. Murder Case

Pegging Pentagon Earmarks » As President Obama pushes for defense procurement reform, it is becoming clear that he is picking a fight with some members of his own party: Democrats secured an estimated $524 million in defense earmarks that the Pentagon did not request into the 2008 appropriations bill, about $220 million more than Republicans did, according to an independent estimate. — Washington Post

By Amanda Zamora | March 9, 2009; 9:49 AM ET | Comments (0)

Persistent Hospital Problems, 'Fatal' Car Seats and More on Merrill Lynch

The editors at Post Investigations have scoured the nation's top in-depth and investigative reports from this past week and selected their most interesting finds.

By Derek Kravitz | March 6, 2009; 7:20 PM ET | Comments (0)

Will Madoff Plead Guilty?

Speculation is rampant that Bernard L. Madoff, the once-heralded New York investment guru now bedeviled as the mastermind of the world's largest-ever Ponzi scheme, will plead guilty and accept some type of plea agreement next week.

By Derek Kravitz | March 6, 2009; 3:54 PM ET | Comments (1)

'Clean Coal,' Detentions and Obama's Copter

See what else we're reading by subscribing to our GoogleReader feed, or following us on Twitter.

By Derek Kravitz | March 6, 2009; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (0)

Rove Set to Testify About Alabama Governor

It looks like Karl Rove, the influential former chief aide to President George W. Bush, will finally face questions about his role, if any, in the bribery conviction of a former Alabama governor.

By Derek Kravitz | March 5, 2009; 4:36 PM ET | Comments (4)

Franken v. Coleman Nearing Final Refrain?

The long-running election fight in Minnesota between Al Franken and Norm Coleman for U.S. senator is still going, four months after voters cast their ballots.

By Derek Kravitz | March 5, 2009; 4:05 PM ET | Comments (0)

Bush Aides to Testify on Atty. Firings; Justices Rule Against Wyeth; Senate Keeps PMA Earmarks

Rove, Miers to Testify » Attorneys for former president George W. Bush, the U.S. House of Representatives and the Obama administration reached agreement yesterday to resolve a long-running dispute over the scope of executive power, a move that will allow lawmakers to question Bush aides Karl Rove and Harriet E. Miers about their roles in the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006. — Washington Post

By Amanda Zamora | March 5, 2009; 9:47 AM ET | Comments (1)

UBS: 'Protect the Banking Secrecy'

A standoff between U.S. congressional leaders and Swiss bankers comes to a head today as a senior executive at UBS, which is in hot water over allegations it helped some American investors evade some of their income taxes, testifies on Capitol Hill.

By Derek Kravitz | March 4, 2009; 4:08 PM ET | Comments (0)

'Just Give Me the Ticket'

In case you missed it, the Post's Ruben Castaneda reports today on the video footage that prompted prosecutors to drop charges against a 30-year-old motorist who had been arrested for assaulting two Prince George's County, Md., police officers last October.

By Amanda Zamora | March 4, 2009; 12:28 PM ET | Comments (0)

Obama Targets 'Broken System' of Federal Contracting

President Obama announced today procurement reforms designed to improve competition for federal contracts, while curbing fraud and waste. He said these reforms would save American taxpayers up to $40 billion a year and help usher in a new era of fiscal responsibility.

By Amanda Zamora | March 4, 2009; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0)

Bernanke Blasts AIG, Hearing Spotlights UBS Memo, Execs Profit Off Bad Loans

UBS Memo at Issue in Senate Hearing » The 2000 memo, to be discussed during a Senate hearing today, focuses on legal advice UBS got from Chicago-based Baker & McKenzie as the bank grappled with how it could keep its clients without violating federal laws that require disclosure of the investments for tax purposes. — USA Today

By Amanda Zamora | March 4, 2009; 9:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

How Police 'Focused' on Guandique

It was the summer of 2001, before the United States changed dramatically following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the case of missing federal intern Chandra Levy dominated the headlines.

By Derek Kravitz | March 3, 2009; 3:07 PM ET | Comments (15)

The Case of the 92 Destroyed Videotapes

The CIA's acknowledgment that it destroyed 92 videotapes of terror suspect interrogations brings to light one of the Bush administration's most controversial episodes.

By Derek Kravitz | March 2, 2009; 5:10 PM ET | Comments (0)

Blackwater Founder Steps Aside

Erik Prince, the reclusive car-parts scion who founded the controversial security firm Blackwater, announced today he was stepping down as the company's chief executive, the end of an era for the embattled private army force.

By Derek Kravitz | March 2, 2009; 1:56 PM ET | Comments (12)

$30 Billion More for AIG; Report: UBS Cuts Bonuses, Gives Raises; Car Seat Tests Reveal 'Flaws'

$30 Billion More for AIG » As the New York-based insurer announces the biggest quarterly corporate loss in U.S. history, the Treasury Department is approving $30 billion more in taxpayer funds for AIG under a revamped bailout package. The government's move acknowledges that AIG's strategy of selling two-thirds of its assets to pay back the government within two years was not working. — Washington Post

By Amanda Zamora | March 2, 2009; 8:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

 

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