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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blow Up World Financial System, Go Scot Free?

A new Wall Street Journal report indicates that the federal government may be unable to file criminal or even civil charges against the principal executives or other management members of Lehman Brothers.

Now, business failure in and of itself never should be cause for criminal prosecution.  (Consider the miscarriage of justice endured by David Stockman.)  This nation can do better than to allow the blood lust of the (Main) "street" to corrupt the criminal justice system into a means of either arbitrary and capricious wealth redistribution or a mechanism for schadenfreude -- taking pleasure at the misfortune of another.

However, it is both puzzling and disturbing that there seems to be a pattern of the federal government rushing to judgment in these investigations -- that is, a rush to close these investigations without taking further action (either civil or criminal).  There is a five year statute of limitations for securities fraud and most federal crimes (although this writer knows of an innovative theory to stretch that statute out by a few years, and not through tolling of the statute or waivers thereof).  It has been only two and one-half years since Lehman filed for bankruptcy.  What's the rush?

It suggests a desire from high up, either at the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or even at the highest levels of the Executive Branch, to cover up and "turn the page" on some events which, if fully revealed, might expose tremendous government incompetence, malfeasance or criminality.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer, strategic analyst and political consultant who investigates complex legal and policy matters on behalf of businesses, individuals and political and other organizations.  Mr. Dixon is available for consultation or further comment at 917-696-2442 and via e-mail at edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com. 

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