Obama´s SEC gets nasty on Goldman, Sachs & Co.,charged them for defrauding investors
Jamie Dimon (L) CEO and chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co, and Lloyd Craig Blankfein, CEO of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. walk away from the White House after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House March 27, 2009 in Washington, DC. Obama used the meeting to tell the bankers that they must look beyond short-term interests toward obligations each person has in order to make it through the current economic troubles. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Washington, D.C., April 16, 2010— The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Goldman, Sachs & Co. and one of its vice presidents for defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts about a financial product tied to subprime mortgages as the U.S. housing market was beginning to falter.
The SEC alleges that Goldman Sachs structured and marketed a synthetic collateralized debt obligation (CDO) that hinged on the performance of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). Goldman Sachs failed to disclose to investors vital information about the CDO, in particular the role that a major hedge fund played in the portfolio selection process and the fact that the hedge fund had taken a short position against the CDO.
“The product was new and complex but the deception and conflicts are old and simple,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the Division of Enforcement. “Goldman wrongly permitted a client that was betting against the mortgage market to heavily influence which mortgage securities to include in an investment portfolio, while telling other investors that the securities were selected by an independent, objective third party.” Kenneth Lench, Chief of the SEC’s Structured and New Products Unit, added, “The SEC continues to investigate the practices of investment banks and others involved in the securitization of complex financial products tied to the U.S. housing market as it was beginning to show signs of distress.”
The SEC alleges that one of the world’s largest hedge funds, Paulson & Co., paid Goldman Sachs to structure a transaction in which Paulson & Co. could take short positions against mortgage securities chosen by Paulson & Co. based on a belief that the securities would experience credit events.
In a statement, Goldman called the commission’s accusations “completely unfounded in law and fact” and said it would “vigorously contest them and defend the firm and its reputation.”
According to the SEC’s complaint, filed in U.S.Mr. Paulson, 54, was not named as a defendant in the S.E.C. suit, but his role in devising the instrument that caused $1 billion in losses for Goldman’s customers is detailed in the complaint. Robert Khuzami, the director of enforcement at the S.E.C., explained that, unlike Goldman, the manager of the hedge fund, Paulson & Company, had not made misrepresentations to investors buying the security, known as a collateralized debt obligation.
The marketing materials for the CDO known as ABACUS 2007-AC1 (ABACUS) all represented that the RMBS portfolio underlying the CDO was selected by ACA Management LLC (ACA), a third party with expertise in analyzing credit risk in RMBS. The SEC alleges that undisclosed in the marketing materials and unbeknownst to investors, the Paulson & Co. hedge fund, which was poised to benefit if the RMBS defaulted, played a significant role in selecting which RMBS should make up the portfolio.
The SEC’s complaint alleges that after participating in the portfolio selection, Paulson & Co. effectively shorted the RMBS portfolio it helped select by entering into credit default swaps (CDS) with Goldman Sachs to buy protection on specific layers of the ABACUS capital structure. Given that financial short interest, Paulson & Co. had an economic incentive to select RMBS that it expected to experience credit events in the near future. Goldman Sachs did not disclose Paulson & Co.’s short position or its role in the collateral selection process in the term sheet, flip book, offering memorandum, or other marketing materials provided to investors.
Fabrice Tourre, Goldman Sachs vice president
The SEC alleges that Goldman Sachs Vice President Fabrice Tourre was principally responsible for ABACUS 2007-AC1. Tourre structured the transaction, prepared the marketing materials, and communicated directly with investors. Tourre allegedly knew of Paulson & Co.’s undisclosed short interest and role in the collateral selection process. In addition, he misled ACA into believing that Paulson & Co. invested approximately $200 million in the equity of ABACUS, indicating that Paulson & Co.’s interests in the collateral selection process were closely aligned with ACA’s interests. In reality, however, their interests were sharply conflicting.
According to the SEC’s complaint, the deal closed on April 26, 2007, and Paulson & Co. paid Goldman Sachs approximately $15 million for structuring and marketing ABACUS. By Oct. 24, 2007, 83 percent of the RMBS in the ABACUS portfolio had been downgraded and 17 percent were on negative watch. By Jan. 29, 2008, 99 percent of the portfolio had been downgraded.
Investors in the liabilities of ABACUS are alleged to have lost more than $1 billion.
The SEC’s complaint charges Goldman Sachs and Tourre with violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Exchange Act Rule 10b-5. The Commission seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits, prejudgment interest, and financial penalties.
Is Goldman a 100% Trusted Finantial Company? Apparently yes, in most cases, but well, let us see… On December 4, 1928, Goldman launched the Goldman Sachs Trading Corp. a closed end fund with characteristics similar to that of a fraudulent Ponzi scheme . The fund failed as a result of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, hurting the firm’s reputation for several years afterward. Of this case and others like Blue Ridge Corporation and Shenandoah Corporation John Kenneth Galbraith wrote: The Autumn of 1929 was, perhaps, the first occasion when men succeeded on a large scale in swindling themselves.
Another financial crisis for the firm occurred in 1970, when the Penn Central Transportation Company went bankrupt with over $80 million in commercial paper outstanding, most of it issued by Goldman Sachs. The bankruptcy was large, and the resulting lawsuits threatened the partnership capital and life of the firm. It was this bankruptcy that resulted in credit ratings being created for every issuer of commercial paper today by several credit rating services.
The story on Fabrice Tourre.
On January 23, 2007, Fabrice Tourre sat down to write what is likely to go down in the annals of the financial crisis as one of the most memorable emails to have found its way out of Wall Street.
Typing in French and in English to a friend who may never be named, the Goldman Sachs banker shared his apparently true feelings on the state of the US housing market: “More and more leverage in the system. The whole building is about to collapse anytime now … Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab[rice Tourre] … standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implication of those monstruosities [sic]!!!”
But a month later, on February 26, French-born Tourre produced another document, a 65-page “flip book” that contained details of a $1bn investment fund, designed to be given to potential investors.
The fund was no ordinary fund, however, but a synthetic collateralised debt obligation (CDO) – a parcel of sub-prime mortgages – to be called Abacus 2007-AC1.
In other words, it was jam-packed with the types of “highly leveraged, exotic trades” he had previously criticised.
Tourre’s role in Goldman Sachs’ scandal…….READ MORE HERE