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INSTANT VIEW: Ex-Bear Stearns hedge fund managers acquitted

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two former Bear Stearns Cos hedge fund managers were acquitted on Tuesday of fraud charges in the first criminal trial of prominent Wall Street executives stemming from subprime mortgage securities that fueled a market meltdown.

A jury in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York, reached its verdict in the month-long trial of hedge fund managers Ralph Cioffi, 53, and Matthew Tannin, 48, after less than six hours of deliberations.

The following is reaction from analysts, experts and investors:

EVAN STEWART, ZUCKERMAN SPAEDER LLP, DEFENSE LAWYER

“The broader issue is that there’s been an increasing trend to make things that were a regulatory violations... that’s very different from saying that that’s a crime that someone should go to jail for.”

“Another lesson is that juicy emails all by themselves do not add up to a case.”

“This is a helpful push back to the notion that everything can be characterized as a crime. ... A crime is going into a bank and stealing money. That’s not what these gentlemen did.”

“The bottom line is that this is a really good thing for our democracy, for our government to be told that you can’t just bring a criminal case and expect to prevail even at a time when Wall Street is viewed in a really negative light.”

JACOB FRENKEL, FORMER SEC ENFORCEMENT LAWYER AND NOW A

PARTNER AT SHULMAN, ROGERS, GANDAL, PORDY & ECKER

“The government clearly will need to rethink whether and when to assert criminal responsibility in connection with the financial meltdown.”

“The strongest message here is for those accused -- it’s OK not to roll over and to fight back, as you can win.”

MARK SCHONFELD, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE SEC’S NEW YORK

OFFICE, NOW A PARTNER AT GIBSON DUNN & CRUTCHER LLP

“This outcome demonstrates that proving complex financial cases to a criminal standard can be much more difficult than the government anticipates.”

ANTHONY SABINO, PROFESSOR OF LAW, TOBIN COLLEGE OF

BUSINESS, ST. JOHN’S UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK:

“To anyone in the business world who might be breathing a big sigh of relief, Don’t.”

“Hedge fund management is obviously an extraordinary complex thing. It is relatively simple to confuse even the best jury”

“The government is a big learning machine, and one thing that’s true with respect to these prosecutions is the government learns from every time they fail to win.”

JIM ANGEL, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF FINANCE AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY’S McDONOUGH SCHOOL OF BUSINESS:

“It’s not a total surprise. It sends a strong message to prosecutors that they need to be able to prove their case. Just losing money in and of itself is not a crime.”

“The burden of proof is on the prosecution to show that these guys actually broke the law, and that is a pretty difficult thing to say.”

MATT MCCORMICK, PORTFOLIO MANAGER AT BAHL & GAYNOR IN

CINCINNATI:

“This suit was very complicated, and future suits will be too, and they’ll be hard to win. It’s always easy to blame Wall Street for losses, but poor judgment and management are not yet a prosecutable crime.”

Reporting by Dan Wilchins, Diane Bartz, Rachelle Younglai, Emily Chasan and Jonathan Spicer

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