Friday, April 16, 2010

Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Pod of Sharks

The announcement of the SEC's case against Goldman Sachs has to be the smartest use to date of the Administration's prosecutorial authority. GS is clearly the entity which has had the most hay made for it from the crisis and from the bailout, and it's time they pay the piper.

The specific charge is that one of the doomed Collateralized Debt Obligations they pushed out on the market was specifically engineered to fail, and they knew it, and they were shorting (betting against) the investment package from the start, and that their behavior constituted fraud. It's probably not the only POS-CDO they produced about which all that could be said, but around this one the SEC's investigation turned up some damning emails (in French) from the responsible SVP. They wouldn't be usable in a criminal trial, but the standard of evidence required for a civil case (as well as the weight of evidence for a verdict) made this a workable charge to press.

The Men of Gold can't afford to lose this case, which would brand them as slimy traitors to their clients and cause permanent reputational damage. The huge drop in their stock price Friday may have been partially due to technical (options-related) reasons, but if the charge is made to stick, worse could yet be coming.

No comments: