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Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke doesn’t have to testify under oath about the government’s 2008 decision to bail out American International Group Inc., at least as long as he holds his current job, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Starr International Co., which had filed a lawsuit challenging the bailout, hadn’t demonstrated there were “extraordinary circumstances” that justified a pretrial deposition of Mr. Bernanke.
The court left open the possibility that Mr. Bernanke could have to testify in the case after he leaves the Fed, but only if Starr is able to meet certain legal requirements that the court found it hadn’t met….
“Starr’s efforts to inquire into these issues have all the appearance, and vices, of a fishing expedition rather than an effort to establish legally material facts,” the court said in its ruling. The court stressed that Mr. Bernanke’s departure from office doesn’t guarantee that Starr would be able to compel his testimony. Mr. Bernanke’s term as Fed chairman ends Jan. 31.