FT.COM: Crisis panel delays report amid rancour


By Tom Braithwaite in Washington

Published: November 18 2010 00:17 | Last updated: November 18 2010 00:17

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission has delayed its report into the causes of the crisis amid rancour between members of the panel.

Set up by Congress as a version of the widely praised Pecora commission, which in the 1930s studied the causes of the Great Depression, the FCIC has told the White House it wants to delay publication of the report from December.

“This is very basic – we believe that to ensure that the commission’s investigation is properly completed and documented we need to deliver the report in January,” Phil Angelides, FCIC chairman, told the Financial Times.

The FCIC has hauled before it financial figures ranging from Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, to Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, producing some memorable moments and unearthing millions of pages of documents.

But the effectiveness of the investigation and whether all members of the FCIC will sign off on the final report when it is delivered in January is still in doubt.

In particular, Republican members have wanted more of a focus on the government’s role in the crisis and are concerned that Mr Angelides, a Democratic appointee, is focusing too much on Wall Street’s role, according to people familiar with the committee.

Some members argued that the FCIC did not have the power to extend its deadline without approval by Congress.

Some have argued that the panel is yet to get into substantive discussion on the causes of the crisis and say they do not believe that will happen.

“What’s important is that the report be truthful and factual,” said Mr Angelides. “It should be no surprise that 10 people with very different places in life will have disagreements.”

He said the task was monumental. “It could go on for years because of the extent and nature of devastation that came to our financial system. The Wall Street firms have spent more on lawyers by leaps and bounds than our full budget but we have a lean and committed staff that’s been working literally 15 hours a day.”

In the last Washington hearing in September, Mr Bernanke said he should have been “more straightforward” with Congress when he avoided saying the central bank had no means to save Lehman Brothers. Dick Fuld, former chief executive of Lehman, said the Fed could and should have saved the bank.

One Response

  1. As usual, the money is talking, and the mega banks and Wall Street are getting away with it. Why have a commission to study anything if one can’t get to the truth. I have another question: if you are an attorney representing Wall Street or a mega bank, don’t you have a duty as an officer of the court, to represent the truth. If your client is lying under oath, don’t you have a responsibility to remedy that? I know that under the Constitution everyone has a right to a defense, but if that defense is about lying, what then? http://www.challengingforeclosure.com Sirak@challengingforeclosure.com

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