Why a Criminal Case Against Goldman Sachs Matters and Why Charges Could Stick


Pam Martens
Counterpunch
May 4, 2010

goldman sachs

Goldman Sachs used to be the firm that pursued top government posts; now government is in hot pursuit of it, and not in a good way.  The SEC has charged the firm and an employee, Fabrice Tourre, with securities fraud and the Justice Department has commenced a criminal investigation, according to news reports. 

Change appears to be swallowing Goldman Sachs.  It began quietly moving out of its storied and staid headquarters at 85 Broad last Fall to flashy new multi-billion dollar digs at 200 West Street, including a 54,000 square foot gym (roughly the size of 20 homes for average Americans; those who can still afford one after the Wall Street pillage). And after the release of internal emails by the SEC and Senate, Goldman looks more like a sleazy boiler room pump and dump operation in drag than an investment bank (in drag as a bank holding company).  Comedy talk show hosts are having a field day (Jon Stewart calls them “those f*!*!ing guys”) and Goldmanfreude (pleasure in watching Goldman shamed for the pain it inflicted on others) is in full swing.

It all sounds eerily familiar to the wealth transfer maneuver by Goldman Sachs Trading Company in the asset bubble of 1928.  The Trading Company was a closed end fund (called a trust in those days) that Goldman Sachs created and offered to the public at $104 a share, stuffed with conflicted investments while paying Goldman a hefty management fee, only to end up a few years after the 1929 crash trading at a buck and change.  On May 20, 1932, Walter Sachs, President of the Goldman Sachs Trading Company, was grilled by the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency. The implication was the same as the current round of Senate hearings: Goldman royally fleeced its customers to line its own pockets.

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