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Old 1st March 2008, 06:42 AM
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FBI probes 2 more companies in subprime crackdown

Subprime fallout has already contributed to a rise in securities fraud class action litigation, which rose 43 percent from 2006 to 2007 according to research released earlier this year from Stanford Law School and Cornerstone Research. This increase was largely due to a surge in the Finance sector filings, which quadrupled from 2006, with over half the filings associated with subprime market disclosure issues.(1) The panel expects pattern litigation in this area, including securities class actions and shareholder derivative litigation, to skyrocket in the coming year with suits similar to the recent filing by the City of Cleveland against 21 banks involved in subprime loans in the city. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has reportedly opened about three dozen cases related to the subprime market collapse, and the FBI has recently announced its investigation into 14 companies suspected of accounting fraud, improperly securing loans and insider trading.

"Subprime litigation, government investigations and new regulations are inevitable," said Ms. Rohde of Mintz Levin. "Starting an internal investigation right away can help financial institutions find the facts as fast as possible, assess exposure to risk, demonstrate cooperation, and prepare them for parallel investigations and litigations."

"A recorded phone conversation can be very damning evidence," according to Nicholas Croce, President of Inference. "There is technology available on the market today that can search, index and preserve video and audio recordings in conjunction with textual files and these sources of data can no longer be ignored."

"Policy management is another area often neglected by IT," added Alan Winchester, member of Harris Beach PLLC. "Proactive information management practices help control costs, ensure compliance, avoid sanctions, and increase efficiency by enabling organizations to uncover relevant information more quickly and identify obsolete information that may be deleted without fear of legal sanction."

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The FBI recently opened two more investigations, bringing to 16 the number of corporations now being probed as part of its crackdown on subprime mortgage industry fraud, a bureau spokesman said on Thursday.

FBI spokesman Bill Carter said the two other investigations started after January 29, when FBI officials told a news briefing that 14 corporations involved in subprime lending were under scrutiny as part of an initiative launched last year.

He declined to identify any of the corporations. But FBI officials have said the companies range across the financial services industry, from mortgage lenders to investment banks that bundle loans into securities sold to investors.

The FBI also is investigating possible insider trading by some executives, the officials have said. Carter said the FBI was working closely with the Securities and Exchange Commission in some of the investigations.

FBI and U.S. Justice Department officials said criminal charges were not imminent in any of the cases under investigation.

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week, Attorney General Michael Mukasey said he could not comment on the FBI's investigations, but said the subprime issue would be a priority.

Mukasey said there first needs to be a gathering of the facts and then decisions would be made on whether prosecutions need to be brought.
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