Goldman Is Charged With Subprime Fraud
The Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday charged Goldman Sachs Group Inc. with defrauding investors, alleging that Goldman let a big hedge fund fill a financial product with risky subprime mortgages and then failed to disclose that to the product's buyers.
The SEC said in the civil complaint that Goldman and Fabrice Tourre, then vice president, created and sold opaque collateralized-debt obligations, or CDOs, that hinged on the performance of subprime-mortgage-backed securities.
Goldman Sachs, which in a statement called the accusations "completely unfounded in law and fact," could face steep fines and be on the hook to repay nearly $1 billion of investor losses. The charges mark the first action regulators have taken against a Wall Street firm for betting on the housing market's collapse, and represents another blow to an investment bank under attack for how it handled the financial crisis.
According to the SEC, Goldman Sachs failed to disclose that Paulson played a significant role in selecting the CDO's portfolio, but the firm then bet against it by entering into a credit-default-swap transaction with Goldman to buy protection on certain layers.
As a result of that bet, Paulson made about $1 billion, SEC said. "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," said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC's Division of Enforcement.
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