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The government's push to expand home ownership and an environment of easy credit helped produce the financial crisis among a variety of other factors, former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld—once the face of the crisis—said Thursday.
Fuld, in his first public remarks since Lehman's collapse, also told the Marcum MicroCap Conference in New York that the strength of Lehman was its shared ownership.
"Regardless of what you heard of Lehman Brothers' risk management, I had 27,000 risk managers because they all owned a piece of the firm," he said.
While Fuld's appearance was widely anticipated, not everyone who attended the conference was happy to see him. Keith McGee, a vice president at Midwest Energy Emissions, left halfway through the speech.
"I'm not interested in a guy in the middle of the credit crisis pretending he wasn't," he said.
Richard S. Fuld, Jr., 69, was chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers from 1994 until the investment bank declared the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history during the financial crisis in 2008. He joined the firm in 1969.
Congress questioned Fuld on his oversight of a company caught in the thick in the subprime mortgage crisis. The former CEO escaped prosecution and has since remained out of Wall Street's spotlight.
At the outset of his remarks, which he said were his first public comments since 2008, he acknowledged that testimony with a smile.
"I don't include my wonderful time with Congress as a public event," Fuld said to laughs.
In September 2008 "Lehman Brothers… was not a bankrupt company," Fuld said. "Not a day goes by that I don't think about Lehman Brothers," Fuld said.
"I do have to move on."
Less than a year after Lehman's collapse, Fuld launched a small advisory firm called Matrix Advisors, which recently .
Last October, reports said Fuld was advising a deal to acquire National Stock Exchange. The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission approved its sale to a new entity called National Stock Exchange Holdings in late February.
Fuld and representatives from Suzhou Kaida Venture Capital announced at a November press conference in Beijing that they would establish a "green channel" for Chinese firms to make initial public offerings in the United States, Chinese media said.
"I thought it was time for me to raise my ugly head. Our business is growing. We're building companies," Fuld said of his new venture, Matrix Advisors.
He said the still relatively little-known firm focused on "merchant banking" and was involved with real estate given his vast experience in the sector.
"We don't put up capital because I lost a fair amount of that stuff," he said. Matrix looks for great management and smart technology products and connects them with capital, Fuld said.