If you or I did something like this, they’d call it moneylaundering

A Yahoo message board for the financial sector is reporting that when Lehman Bros. filed for bankruptcy its biggest unsecured creditor was CitiBank; to the tune of $138 Billion in unsecured debt. You may recall that the Federal Reserve very publicly refused to bail out Lehman Bros.

However, the poster to the Yahoo message board claims that according to Lehman’s bankruptcy filings:

Following Lehman’s filing, J.P. Morgan transferred $138 billion in two payments to Lehman Brothers — $87 billion on Sept. 15th and $51 billion on Sept. 16th. Bloomberg reported that the transfer of funds was "to keep financial markets stable," and to settle Lehman’s "securities transactions with customers…and clearance parties, according the [court] filing."

That’s pretty generous of J.P. Morgan, isn’t it?

Or not.

After these transfers, also according to Bloomberg, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York made two subsequent payments to J.P. Morgan: $87 billion on Sept. 15th and $51 billion on Sept. 16th, for a total of $138 billion.

Lehman’s bankruptcy court filing said that J.P. Morgan’s $138 billion transfer to Lehman was "At the request of… the Federal Reserve Bank of New York."

[emphasis mine]

The poster makes the interesting observation that

One could infer that J.P. Morgan was used as a third party in order to avoid the perception that, despite statements regarding not bailing out Lehman, the Fed was indeed assuming $138 billion in obligations that were in default upon Lehman’s bankruptcy.

Once could also infer that such an action by the Fed amounted to a $138 billion bailout of Citibank, which was the dollar value of the Lehman-issued bonds Citibank held

But the most intriguing question of all comes near the end

The statement did not identify who or what owned the $138 billion in bonds.

[emphasis mine]

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