Obama housing adviser Franklin Raines

NEW YORK – Former Clinton administration budget adviser and current Obama housing adviser Franklin Raines perpetrated an Enron-like accounting scandal as chief executive officer of Fannie Mae, resulting in his receiving millions in compensation over a six-year period.

Raines and two other top Fannie Mae executives agreed to pay $24.7 million, including a $2 million fine, to settle a civil lawsuit filed in December 2006. It accused Raines and the two other executives of manipulating Fannie Mae earnings, allowing executives to pocket hundreds of millions in bonuses from 1998 to 2004, according to the Associated Press.

The AP also reported Raines was forced to give up Fannie Mae stock options valued at $15.6 million as part of the settlement.

As recently as July 17, the Washington Post ran a profile piece on Raines claiming he “has been quietly constructing a new life for himself,” in which Raines takes “calls from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters.”

Prior to the settlement, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, known as OFHEO, the government regulator that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, had sought $100 million against Raines and the other two executives, plus restitution totaling more than $115 million in bonus money tied to the accounting scheme manipulation.

Fannie Mae separately paid a $400 million civil fine in a settlement with OFHEO and the Securities and Exchange Commission in an agreement to make top-to-bottom changes in its accounting procedures to avoid future Raines-like accounting manipulation scandals.

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s top account accused Fannie Mae under Raines’ leadership of misstating earnings for three and a half years, leading to an estimated $9 billion earnings restatement that wiped out 40 percent of Fannie Mae’s profits from 2001-2004, according to Business Week.

Central to the Raines accounting scandal was a strategy to “cook the books” of Fannie Mae to show the type of earnings that would trigger hundreds of millions of bonuses to Raines and other key Fannie Mae executives.

When the scandal surfaced, Raines resigned from Fannie Mae in December 2004, with a $19 million severance package, according to the Associated Press.

The Raines scandal surfaced in 2004 when charges Fannie Mae accounting manager Roger Barnes had been making since 1999 surfaced. He said Fannie Mae had been manipulating its earnings through “cookie jar” accounting to justify payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses to top executives.

In his 26-page testimony before OFHEA, Barnes detailed multiple Fannie Mae deviations for Generally Accepted Accounting Practices, or GAAP, and his repeated efforts to bring these irregularities to a wide range of Fannie Mae managers and executives, all without positive result.

Barnes said he left Fannie Mae in October 2003 because he felt “forced out” once it excluded him from working on the OFHEA investigation.

“As a result of Fannie Mae’s refusals to take the concerns I had raised about financial and accounting practices seriously, and the retaliation I faced for raising these concerns, I had no choice but to separate from the Company in October 2003,” Barnes said on page 25 of his written Oct. 6, 2004, testimony to the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.

Still, the OFHEA report on the Raines scandal cited Barnes 34 times in the first 80 pages of its 200-page report.

Barnes, an African American, reportedly received a $1 million settlement after threatening a whistleblower lawsuit citing racial discrimination, according to USA Today.

 


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