WASHINGTON — Federal investigators have opened preliminary probes into the financial troubles of four high-profile companies that are at the center of the current financial turmoil that the Bush administration says requires an unprecedented proposed taxpayer-funded bailout to clean up.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's preliminary inquiries are focusing on whether fraud helped cause some of the troubles at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and American International Group Inc., according to senior law-enforcement officials.

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