Article: Naked short sales hint fraud in bringing down Lehman

Article - Media

Naked short sales hint fraud in bringing down Lehman

Gary Matsumoto

Bloomberg, 22 March 2009

The biggest bankruptcy in history might have been avoided if Wall Street had been prevented from practicing one of its darkest arts. As Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc struggled to survive last year, as many as 32.8 million shares in the company were sold and not delivered to buyers on time as of September 11, according to data compiled by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Bloomberg. That was a more than 57-fold increase over the prior years peak of 567,518 failed trades on July 30. The SEC has linked such so-called fails-to-deliver to naked short selling, a strategy that can be used to manipulate markets. A fail-to-deliver is a trade that doesn’t settle within three days. We had another word for this in Brooklyn, said Harvey Pitt, a former SEC chairman. The word was fraud.

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