Archive for Friday, August 25, 2006

Fannie Mae avoids criminal prosecution

August 25, 2006

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— Mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae avoided criminal prosecution for its alleged multibillion-dollar accounting fraud, the latest twist in a saga of intrigue involving a politically potent company.

The decision, first announced Thursday by the government-sponsored company, marks one more break in the succession of high-profile financial prosecutions in recent years.

Federal prosecutors in Washington confirmed they had shut down their investigation of Fannie Mae's faulty accounting after two years. But the Securities and Exchange Commission still could bring civil actions against individual executives, including people no longer at Fannie Mae, with the burden of proof less stringent than in criminal prosecutions.

Regulators said the scheme included manipulations to reach quarterly earnings targets so Fannie Mae executives could pocket hundreds of millions in bonuses from 1998 to 2004. Also, the discovery of falsified signatures on company documents supporting those accounting transactions had raised the possibility of criminal activity, according to some experts and observers.

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