Refco: When Smart Money Isn't So Smart

A special bankruptcy examiner faults TH Lee's bad due diligence for the downfall of the recently public brokerage. And he's got the e-mail trail

The titans of the private equity world fancy themselves smarter, shrewder, and more sophisticated than any one else on Wall Street. Investors have bought into the sentiment as they've scooped up the shares of the private equity firms that have gone public recently: Blackstone Group (BX) and Fortress Investment Group (FIG). But a recent report on the spectacular collapse of Refco—the once-dominant commodities broker that was laid waste by a massive accounting fraud—paints an unflattering portrait of the private equity firm that engineered Refco's August, 2004, leveraged buyout and its initial public offering a year later (see BusinessWeek.com, 7/11/07, "Kill the Private-Equity Tax Break").

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