The people vs Wall Street


Stephen Foley
The Independent
October 16, 2009

[efoods]Amidst the economic wreckage, after 7 million job losses and approaching 2 million home foreclosures in the US alone, with businesses and consumers around the world still struggling to get finance after the long credit crunch, Wall Street is finally on trial. A little piece of Wall Street, at least.

In the first major case against bankers at the heart of the financial meltdown, a jury of 12 mainly working-class New Yorkers will decide the fate of the two Bear Stearns managers whose hedge funds imploded in 2007, signalling the start of the crisis. Ralph Cioffi, 53, and Matt Tannin, 48, pocketed millions of dollars in pay during the boom years, but the events of 2007 left their investors nursing losses of $1.6bn (£1bn) and ruined forever the reputation of Bear Stearns, one of the oldest investment banks on Wall Street.

Dressed as if for a funeral, the pair sat impassively in the brightly lit courtroom in downtown Brooklyn yesterday as assistant US attorney Patrick Sinclair recounted what he said was a litany of lies that they told to investors. The two men were desperate to stop investors deserting their funds when the sub-prime mortgage market began to plunge, Mr Sinclair said. Mr Cioffi alone was paid $32m in the two years before the funds collapsed.

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