| WASHINGTON, Sept 29
WASHINGTON, Sept 29 The U.S. government's bank
bailout program paid more than $9 million in legal fees to law
firms that submitted questionable bills with little or no
details on services provided, the agency's watchdog said in a
report released on Thursday.
The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief
Program (SIGTARP) said auditors questioned $8.1 million of a
sampling of $9.1 million in bills from four law firms paid by
Treasury's Office of Financial Stability (OFS).
The firms submitted bills with either no descriptions or
vague descriptions of the work performed, unsupported expense
charges, and administrative charges that were not allowed under
their contract, SIGTARP said.
The most striking examples of problematic bills were from
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, the report said.
"Simpson Thacher billed OFS $5.8 million in fees and
expenses with bills that provided no detail whatsoever as to the
work performed," the report said.
The watchdog, which investigates waste and fraud in the
bailout program, also examined bills from Cadwalader Wickersham
& Taft LLP, and Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP Bingham
McCutchen LLP, formerly McKee Nelson LLP.
The report pointed out that although auditors questioned
bills from all of the law firms it did not mean that all of the
fees and expenses were unreasonable.
As of March, the office which administers TARP had paid the
four firms legal fees and expenses totaling more than $25.5
million, the audit said.
"OFS should determine the allowability of $7,980,215 in
unsupported legal fees and expenses paid to the law firms," it
The report also recommended that Treasury try to recover
$91,482 in "ineligible" fees and expenses paid to Simpson
The audit is the watchdog's final report on OFS's management
of contracts with five law firms from 2008, when TARP began, to
March 31 of this year.
A preliminary report was issued in April after auditors
found similar problems with legal bills from Venable, LLP - the
first of the five firms bills to be audited.
(Reporting by JoAnne Allen; editing by xxx)