A scathing report by a Congressional watchdog examining the bailout of GMAC found that the Treasury Department did not adequately protect taxpayer money.

The government should have orchestrated a strategic bankruptcy of the auto finance and mortgage lender last year rather than invest $17.2 billion to save it, according to a draft of the report to be released Thursday by the Congressional Oversight Panel of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

GMAC is the parent company of Residential Capital Corp., an active residential funder and the nation's fifth largest servicer.

"The rescue came at great public expense," the 152-page report says. The oversight panel also found that GMAC was treated more favorably than other companies in comparable circumstances, including both General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Group, which were forced into bankruptcy.

Last month, the report says, the oversight panel asked for "assurances from witnesses" that no third-party shareholder in GMAC would receive a return on its investment before taxpayers. The government currently owns 56.3% of the company.

"The fact remains that the only way to ensure that result would have been through a bankruptcy," the report stated. "The panel remains unconvinced that in 2008 or very early 2009 bankruptcy or a similar restructuring, including a sale of the automotive financing business, was not a real possibility; nor has the panel been convinced that even now a GMAC or ResCap bankruptcy or sale of the automotive financing is impossible."

In 2006, a consortium led by Cerberus Capital agreed to pay $14 billion for a 51% stake in GMAC.

After the government takeover of the company, Cerberus' position in GMAC has been severely reduced with the value of its investment becoming almost worthless.

Subscribe Now

Access to a full range of industry content, analysis and expert commentary.

30-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Access coverage of the securitization marketplace, including breaking news updated throughout the day.