Today’s New York Times has an account of a Lehman Brothers “alter ego” firm, Hudson Castle, part of the “vast financial system that operates in the shadows of Wall Street”:
“It was like a hidden passage on Wall Street, a secret channel that enabled billions of dollars to flow through Lehman Brothers.
In the years before its collapse, Lehman used a small company — its “alter ego,” in the words of a former Lehman trader — to shift investments off its books.
“Entities like Hudson Castle are part of a vast financial system that operates in the shadows of Wall Street, largely beyond the reach of banking regulators. These entities enable banks to exchange investments for cash to finance their operations and, at times, make their finances look stronger than they are.”
The firm, called Hudson Castle, played a crucial, behind-the-scenes role at Lehman, according to an internal Lehman document and interviews with former employees. The relationship raises new questions about the extent to which Lehman obscured its financial condition before it plunged into bankruptcy.
And sadly, it’s still going on:
“Even now, a year and a half after Lehman’s collapse, major banks still undertake such transactions with businesses whose names, like Hudson Castle’s, are rarely mentioned outside of footnotes in financial statements, if at all.”