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By: DanHess Wed, 21 Apr 2010 19:54:00 +0000 In the court of public opinion, Goldman is already toast:

“73% Say It’s Likely Goldman Sachs Committed Fraud” ontent/business/general_business/april_2 010/73_say_it_s_likely_goldman_sachs_com mitted_fraud

By: hsvkitty Wed, 21 Apr 2010 16:39:46 +0000 This statement was included with GS annual report copied to the SEC. Does this suitably warn that they are under investigation by the SEC?

“GS&Co. and certain of its affiliates, together with other financial services firms, have received requests for information from various governmental agencies and self-regulatory organizations relating to subprime mortgages, and securitizations, collateralized debt obligations and synthetic products related to subprime mortgages. GS&Co. and its affiliates are cooperating with the requests.”

The wells report means documents (millions of pages) have already been sifted through and and it is notification there is grounds for charges and warns action will commence, so I don’t think it does.

Note: this same notice was in the previous year’s annual report during the time the information was being handed over to the SEC.

By: DanHess Wed, 21 Apr 2010 05:48:32 +0000 BDouglas, fine point!

Here’s 10(b):
“It shall be unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly, by the use of any means or instrumentality of interstate commerce, or of the mails or of any facility of any national securities exchange,
(a) To employ any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud,
(b) To make any untrue statement of a material fact or to omit to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in the light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading, or
(c) To engage in any act, practice, or course of business which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon any person,

in connection with the purchase or sale of any security”

Some people have taken to saying that while what they did was morally wrong, it wasn’t illegal. If you are a judge or jury and you think they hid facts in a way that was misleading, that is all you need.

Goldman needs to stop the bravado and combative stance and deal with their deep ethical problems, pronto. Even if there is a small chance they beat the SEC charges, they face action in many jurisdictions. The odds that they are exonerated everywhere is exactly nil.

By: randymiller Wed, 21 Apr 2010 05:43:32 +0000 Correct me if I am wrong, but I am pretty sure that the SEC has subpoena power. Financial and business reporters do not. So the SEC’s real value is to use their subpoena power to expose this kind of behavior, to shine a light on GS practices. I doubt that we will get to a point where a jury foreman stands up and says we find for the plaintiff, and Goldman is required to pay the plaintiff X dollars. But I am 99 percent sure that we will also never hear a jury foreman say that Goldman is innocent, exonerated, vindicated, etc.

The SEC has confirmed what everyone suspected, that Goldman is not to be trusted, and that lack of trustworthiness is actionable.

On a day when GS reported huge earnings, their stock went down $3.34, and went down a little more in after hours trading. They got no bounce off those earnings, although the market may have already factored in their earning based on information that had come out before the earnings reports. So… maybe without the earnings, Friday’s big fall would have been worse.

So Goldman’s future might be falling stock prices, investors shying away from dealing with them, lots of legal expenses…..which can lead to falling stock prices, etc.

I am not saying death spiral here, but did anybody predict Bear Stearns death spiral happening in just a few days?

By: BDouglas Wed, 21 Apr 2010 03:20:36 +0000 Just a side point of disagreement: Read the magnificently broad and flexible Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the core anti-fraud provision on which the SEC sued Goldman and typically sues for fraud) and tell me that the SEC and US financial regulation is “rules based” rather than “principles based.” That is a canard that gained currency a few short years ago when Henry Paulson and Chris Cox were trying to (further) neuter US financial regulators by making them more like the supposedly more enlightened and “principles-based” FSA. Granted, there are many technical SEC rules concerning many aspects of the securities business, but the biggest weapons — the anti-fraud provisions — are about as principle-based as you can get: don’t lie about the securities you’re selling, and don’t conceal facts that make your statements about those securities misleading.

By: DanHess Wed, 21 Apr 2010 00:50:39 +0000 Yes, it is still wrong.

But as for the hard charges of fraud, I do believe they will stick. Goldman lied when they said to the CDO investors that an independent party selected the securities. And they lied again in their earnings call when they said that ACA was solely responsible for the selection of the securities. Indeed they are guilty of making false statements every time they repeat that line.

The reason the charges against Goldman will stick most of all is that in America, a jury of one’s peers means a jury of fellow American citizens, not a jury of fellow Wall Street traders. Only a fellow trader could be persuaded by Goldman’s tortured logic. If the trial is with a judge, well judges too are human and take into account both the spirit and letter of the law, like it or not.

What is beyond me is why Goldman insists on repeating that they did nothing wrong (and making this a referendum on the entire firm) rather than coming down hard on themselves and taking the wind out of the sails of their critics. It appears that Goldman would rather not take charge of their own reform, meaning forces outside of Goldman (including the governments of many nations) will be in the driver’s seat.

By: Felix Salmon Wed, 21 Apr 2010 00:08:46 +0000 Curmudgeon, I’m not for a minute saying it wasn’t fraud — although Sloan seems to be leaning that way. I’m just saying that even if it isn’t fraud, it’s still wrong.

By: HBC Tue, 20 Apr 2010 23:06:33 +0000 Beg to differ here, Felix: the damage that needs doing to Humpty Dumpty Goldman et al. has not yet been done. The score is a long way from being settled. When there isn’t a leper colony left on earth that will take them in, then, maybe.