Fed's bailout loans are properly secret, judge rules

Section:

By Grant McCool
Reuters
Thursday, July 30, 2009

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN3037958120090730

NEW YORK -- A U.S. judge on Thursday denied a bid by Fox News Network LLC seeking details from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve about the central bank's loans to companies affected by the financial crisis.

The owner of the Fox Business cable network made an initial request for documents in November last year under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) about the companies and funds they received between August 2007 and November 2008.

Both parties had filed motions with U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan federal court to rule in their favor after Fox filed its request to the court in January.

"I rule that one document, which the Board determined is not a record, is indeed, a record. The Board shall identify this document and either produce it or claim an exemption," Hellerstein said in a written order.

"In all other respects, I grant the Board's motion and deny Fox's motion, finding that the Board performed an adequate search and that Exemption 4 permits the Board not to disclose the documents that Fox seeks."

Under Exemption 4 of the FOIA, an agency must demonstrate that the information sought is a "trade secret" or "commercial or financial" in character and "obtained from a person" and "privileged and confidential."

Fox said in a statement in response to the ruling: "We respect the judge's decision, but we will probably appeal."

The Fed has been a critical player in financial rescue packages for companies. It also opened up its discount window to a wider range of entities in an attempt to provide more liquidity to the financial sector.

Fox News is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

The case is Fox News Network LLC v Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System 09-272 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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