- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The FBI is investigating four major U.S. financial institutions whose collapse helped trigger a $700 billion bailout plan by the Bush administration.

Two law enforcement officials said Tuesday the FBI is looking at potential fraud by mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and insurer American International Group Inc.

The inquiries, still in preliminary stages, will focus on the financial institutions and the individuals that ran them, a senior law enforcement official said.

Officials said the new inquiries bring the number of corporate lenders under investigation during the last year to 26.

Spokesmen for AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday evening. A Lehman spokesman did not have an immediate comment.

The law enforcement officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigations are ongoing and are in the very early stages.

Just last week, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III put the number of large financial firms under investigation at 24. He did not name any of the companies under investigation, but said the FBI also is looking at whether any of them had misrepresented their assets.

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