In an interview with Bloomberg Television this morning, former Lehman Brothers CFO Brad Hintz condemned the firm's executives for camouflaging its ballooning balance sheet as the financial crisis set in.
(Read more about the Lehman accounting scandal here.)
Hintz, who left Lehman in the late 1990s, called 'Repo 105' -- the accounting technique the highly leveraged firm used to conceal $50 billion in assets -- "shenanigans":
"No, it wasn't done at the other firms, so it was clearly an accounting technical approach in order to bring a balance sheet down. But you're not bringing the balance sheet down... If all you're doing is hiding behind a curtain, it's not there."
Hintz said that what shocked him most was how long Lehman waited just to address its balance sheet:
"The comments about shrinking Lehman's balance sheet really wasn't something that occurred until well after the crisis began, which if you're facing a funding or confidence crisis, the first thing you do is put your balance sheet into a nose dive and raise cash."
He remembered the accounting systems the firm used in the 1990s were "primitive," and the problem of excessive leverage reached back to at least his days at the firm, he added. But former CEO Dick Fuld, who may face criminal charges over the scandal, was always "a very forceful personality" who was heavily involved in managing the firm's risk: "It's hard for me to see him giving up the risk side," Hintz said.
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