At $639 billion, Lehman Brothers Holdings' bankruptcy in 2008 was the biggest in U.S. history and touched off a withering financial crisis known as the Great Recession. On Thursday, a federal judge released a damaging report saying that rather than working to prevent the collapse, senior Lehman executives, auditor Ernst & Young and other investment banks may actually have hastened it, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Citing the report, the newspaper said that the investment bank's top brass, including CEO Richard Fuld, failed to disclose accounting problems that the report called "actionable balance sheet manipulation." The report also faulted other investment banks, including Citigroup (C) and J.P. Morgan Chase (JPM), saying they demanded collateral from Lehman and revised agreements with the New York-based firm in its final days. These were moves that reduced Lehman's liquidity and drove it toward bankruptcy, the paper said, citing the report.

The Journal said U.S. Bankruptcy Judge James Peck unsealed the report following the investigation of the events leading up to Lehman's implosion by court-appointed examiner Anton Valukas, chairman of law firm Jenner & Block.

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