Examiner finds 'Repo 105' helped disguise Lehman's ailing health
An accounting maneuver known as "Repo 105" was a "drug" that helped maintain a veneer of health on Lehman Brothers' crumbling balance sheet in the months running up to its bankruptcy, a report from a court-appointed examiner shows. The firm began using the Repo 105 as far back as 2001, but its use picked up sharply toward the end of 2007, even in the face of concern from some staff, as banks worldwide came under more and more pressure to cut their leverage. Responding to an April 2008 email asking if he was familiar with the transaction, Bart McDade, the firm's then-head of equities and subsequently chief operating officer, replied: "I am very aware... it is another drug we r on," according to the report by examiner Anton Valukas. The report, which runs to 2,200 pages, said former top officers including ex-CEO Dick Fuld and Chief Financial Officers Chris O'Meara, Erin Callan and Ian Lowitt could face legal claims for negligence of breach of duty. At its peak in the second quarter of 2008, Lehman used Repo 105 to effectively move around $50bn of assets off its balance sheet, according to the report.