Ralph Vartabedian and Tom Hamburger
LA Times 
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The special inspector general says TARP is ‘inherently vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse.’ The risk grows as the plan becomes more complex, he says.
Reporting from Washington and Los Angeles — In the first major disclosure of corruption in the $750-billion financial bailout program, federal investigators said Monday they have opened 20 criminal probes into possible securities fraud, tax violations, insider trading and other crimes.
The cases represent only the first wave of investigations, and the total fraud could ultimately reach into the tens of billions of dollars, according to Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general overseeing the bailout program.
The disclosures reinforce fears that the hastily designed and rapidly changing bailout program run by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve is going to carry a heavy price of fraud against taxpayers — even as questions grow about its ability to stabilize the nation’s financial system.
Barofsky said the complex nature of the bailout program makes it “inherently vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse, including significant issues relating to conflicts of interest facing fund managers, collusion between participants, and vulnerabilities to money laundering.”