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Sunday, April 18, 2010


GOLDMAN SACHS, the world’s biggest investment bank that is now assailed by accusations of fraud, is poised to reignite controversy over bankers’ bonuses by paying its staff more than £3.5 billion for just three months’ work.
The bumper payouts will equate to about £110,000 a head for the firm’s 32,500 employees worldwide, with a handful of top traders expected to be in line for multi-million-pound bonuses.
Close to £600m is expected to be paid to the group’s 5,500 London-based staff for the first three months of this year. This is on a par with their remuneration in 2007, the last year of the boom.
The revelation of the enormous pay deals comes as Goldman prepares for a legal battle with the US government. The group was sued on Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Wall Street regulator, over claims it defrauded investors of $1 billion. Goldman denies the charges.
Fabrice Tourre, 31, a vice-president at the bank who works in its London office, is also being sued for allegedly helping to create a mortgage-backed product doomed to fail because it was deliberately filled with risky loans to poor people.
Royal Bank of Scotland, which is 84% owned by the UK taxpayer, appears to have been one of the biggest losers from the alleged fraud. The bank is this weekend considering legal action against Goldman.
The charges relate to a mortgage bond issued by the bank. The American regulators claim Goldman designed the bond so it would drop in value.
Goldman Sachs last year paid £10 billion in bonuses. LinkHere
John Paulson Needs A Good Lawyer
Of all the reactions so far to various dimensions of Goldman fraudulent securities “Fab” scandal, one stands out. On Bill Maher’s show, Friday night, I argued that John Paulson – the investor who helped design the CDO at the heart of the affair – should face serious legal consequences.
On the show, David Remnick of the New Yorker pointed out that Paulson has not been indicted. And since then numerous people have argued that Paulson did nothing wrong – rather that the fault purely lies with Goldman for not disclosing fully to investors who had designed the CDO.
But this is to mistake the nature of the crime here – and also to misread the legal strategy of the SEC.
The obvious targets are Goldman’s top executives, whom we know were deeply engaged with the housing side of their business in early 2007 – because it was an important part of their book and they were well aware that the market was in general going bad.
Either Goldman’s executives were well aware of the “Fab” and its implications – in which case they face serious potential criminal and civil penalties – or they did not have effective control over transactions that posed significant operational and financial risk to their organization.
They will undoubtedly pursue the “we did not know” defense – which of course debunks entirely the position taken by Gerry Corrigan (of Goldman and formerly head of the NY Fed) when I pressed him before the Senate Banking Committee in February. Corrigan claimed that Goldman’s risk management system is the best in the business and simply superb; the former may be true, but the latter claim will be blown up by Lloyd Blankfein’s own lawyers – they must, in order to keep him out of jail. (Aside to Mr. Blankfein’s lawyers: the people you are up against have already read 13 Bankers and may put it to good use; you might want to get a copy.)
And don’t be misled by the purely civil nature of the charges so far – and the fact that the announced target is only one transaction. This is a good strategy to uncover more information – for broader charges on related dimensions – and it allows congressional enquiries to pile on more freely.
As for John Paulson, the issue will of course be the “paper trail” – including emails and phone conversations. A great deal of pressure will be brought to bear on the people who have worked with him, many of whom now faced permanently broken careers in any case.
Here’s the legal theory to keep in mind. Mr. Paulson only stood to gain on a massive scale (or at all) if the securities in question were mispriced, i.e., because their true nature (that they had been picked by Mr. Paulson) was not disclosed. In other words, the Paulson transactions at this stage of the game only made sense if they involved fraud. The principals involved (Paulson and top Goldman people) are all super smart, with unmatched practical experience in this area; they get this totally. LinkHere

Goldman Sachs: Brown attacks firm's 'moral bankruptcy'
Gordon Brown has called for a "special investigation" into Goldman Sachs after reports that the bank is to pay £3.5bn in bonuses.
Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show the Prime Minister described the situation as one of "moral bankruptcy".
His criticism follows allegations by the Securities and Exchange Commission in US that Goldman defrauded investors during the sub-prime housing crisis.
Goldman strongly rejected the claims as wrong "in fact and law". LinkHere


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