Venezuela's Chavez revels in Lehman collapse

CARACAS, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took a swipe at Lehman Brothers on Tuesday, chuckling over the firm’s collapse and dismissing its past criticism of the Venezuelan economy.

“They were always producing negative reports about Venezuela,” Chavez told reporters. “They forgot about themselves ... and ‘boom!’ they were bankrupt.”

Many investment firms, including Lehman LEH.N, question the strength of Venezuela's fast-growing economy, saying it relies too heavily on oil exports and is failing to attract foreign investment.

Chavez pointed out the economy has grown for nearly five years.

“Few people in the world say that,” he said. “Lehman Brothers, for example, never said it, maybe that’s why things didn’t go well for them.”

Venezuela’s economy grew 7.1 percent in the second quarter, with high crude oil prices funding a construction boom and public spending.

Chavez’s comments echo recent criticism of Lehman by his ally, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.

Earlier this month, she said the firm should “worry more about their own books” after it raised questions about Argentina’s economy.

Lehman filed for bankruptcy on Monday.

Writing by Kevin Gray