Goldman: More CDO Litigation And Investigations Likely Coming

Is the most in-fraudential firm finally going down?

Joe Weisenthal | May. 10, 2010, 7:17 AM BuisnessInsider.com

Goldman’s latest 10-Q is out, and as Bloomberg first noted, the firm is expecting more CDO-related litigation and investigations.

Here’s the key line:lloyd blankfein goldman sachs protestor

We anticipate that additional putative shareholder derivative actions and other litigation may be filed, and regulatory and other investigations and actions commenced, against us with respect to offerings of CDOs.

The full passage is below.

———–

 On April 16, 2010, the SEC brought an action (SEC Action) under the U.S. federal securities laws in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against GS&Co. and one of its employees in connection with a CDO offering made in early 2007 (2007 CDO Transaction), alleging that the defendants made materially false and misleading statements to investors and seeking, among other things, unspecified monetary penalties. Notices of investigation subsequently have been received by GS&Co. from FINRA and by GSI from the U.K. Financial Services Authority, and Group Inc. and certain of its affiliates have received requests for information from other regulators regarding CDO offerings, including the 2007 CDO Transaction, and related matters.
 
Since April 22, 2010, a number of putative shareholder derivative actions have been filed in New York Supreme Court, New York County, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Group Inc., the Board and certain officers and employees of Group Inc. and its affiliates in connection with CDO offerings made between 2004 and 2007, including the 2007 CDO Transaction. These derivative complaints generally include allegations of breach of fiduciary duty, corporate waste, abuse of control, mismanagement, unjust enrichment, misappropriation of information and insider trading, and challenge the accuracy and adequacy of Group Inc.’s disclosure. These derivative complaints seek, among other things, declaratory relief, unspecified compensatory damages, restitution and certain corporate governance reforms. In addition, plaintiffs in the Delaware Court of Chancery actions described in the “Compensation-Related Litigation” section above have amended their complaint to assert, among other things, allegations similar to those in the derivative claims referred to above.
 
Since April 23, 2010, the Board has received letters from shareholders demanding that the Board take action to address alleged misconduct by GS&Co., the Board and certain officers and employees of Group Inc. and its affiliates. The demands generally allege misconduct in connection with the 2007 CDO Transaction, the alleged failure by Group Inc. to adequately disclose the SEC investigation that led to the SEC Action, and Group Inc.’s 2009 compensation practices. The demands include a letter from a Group Inc. shareholder, which previously made a demand that the Board investigate and take action in connection with auction products matters, and has now expanded its demand to address the foregoing matters.
 
In addition, beginning April 26, 2010, a number of purported securities law class actions have been filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York challenging the adequacy of Group Inc.’s public disclosure of, among other things, the firm’s activities in the CDO market and the SEC investigation that led to the SEC Action. The purported class action complaints, which name as defendants Group Inc. and certain officers and employees of Group Inc. and its affiliates, generally allege violations of Sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act and seek unspecified damages.
 
We anticipate that additional putative shareholder derivative actions and other litigation may be filed, and regulatory and other investigations and actions commenced, against us with respect to offerings of CDOs.

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Borrower Bailout?: Goldman Sachs Conveyor Belt

 Via: Livinglies

Borrower Bailout?: Goldman Sachs Conveyor Belt

  • If you have a GSAMP securitized loan you might want to pay particular attention here. In fact, if you ever had a securitized loan of any kind you should be very interested.
  • Hudson Mezzanine: The use of the word “mezzanine” is like the use of the word “Trust.” There is no mezzanine and there is no trust in the legal sense. It is merely meant to convey the fact that a conduit was being used to front multiple transactions — any one of which could be later moved around because the reference to the conduit entity does not specifically incorporate the exhibits to the conduit.
  • The real legal issue here is who owns the profit from these deals? The profit is derived from insurance. The cost of insurance was funded from the securitized chain starting with the sale of securities to investors for money that was pooled.
  • That pool was used in part to fund mortgages and insurance bets that those mortgages would fail. 93% of the sub-prime mortgages rated Triple AAA got marked down to junk level even if they did not fail, and insurance paid off because of the markdown. That means money was paid based upon loans executed by borrowers, whether they were or are default or not.
  • If enough of the pool consisted of sub-prime mortgages, the the entire pool was marked down and insurance paid off. So whether you have a sub-prime mortgage or a conventional mortgage, whether you are up to date or in default, there is HIGH PROBABILITY that a payment has been made from insurance which should be allocated to your loan, whether foreclosed or not.
  • The rest of the proceeds of investments by investors went as fees and profits to middlemen. If you accept the notion that the entire securitization chain was a single transaction in which fraud was the principal ingredient on both ends (homeowners and ivnestors), then BOTH the homeowner borrowers and the investors have a claim to that money.
  • Homeowners have a claim for undisclosed compensation under the Truth in Lending Act and Investors have a claim under the Securities laws.  (That is where these investor lawsuits and settlements come from).
  • What nobody has done YET is file a claim for borrowers. The probable reason for this is that the securities transactions giving rise to these profits seem remote from the loan transaction. But if they arose BECAUSE of the execution of the loan documents by the borrower, then lending laws apply, along with REG Z from the Federal reserve. The payoff to borrowers is huge, potentially involving treble damages, interest, court costs and attorney fees.
  • Under common law fraud and just plain common sense, there is no legal basis for allowing the perpetrator of a fraud to keep the benefits arising out of the the fraud. So who gets the money?
April 26, 2010

Mortgage Deals Under Scrutiny as Goldman Faces Senators

By LOUISE STORY

WASHINGTON — The legal storm buffeting Goldman Sachs continued to rage Tuesday just ahead of what is expected to be a contentious Senate hearing at which bank executives plan to defend their actions during the housing crisis.

Senate investigators on Monday claimed that Goldman Sachs had devised not one but a series of complex deals to profit from the collapse of the home mortgage market. The claims suggested for the first time that the inquiries into Goldman were stretching beyond the sole mortgage deal singled out by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The S.E.C. has accused Goldman of defrauding investors in that single transaction, Abacus 2007-AC1, have thrust the bank into a legal whirlwind.

The stage for Tuesday’s hearing was set with a flurry of new documents from the panel, the Permanent Senate Subcommittee on Investigations. That was preceded by a press briefing in Washington, where the accusations against Goldman have transformed the politics of financial reform.

In the midst of this storm, Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman’s chairman and chief executive, plans to sound a conciliatory note on Tuesday.

In a statement prepared for the hearing and released on Monday, Mr. Blankfein said the news 10 days ago that the S.E.C. had filed a civil fraud suit against Goldman had shaken the bank’s employees.

“It was one of the worst days of my professional life, as I know it was for every person at our firm,” Mr. Blankfein said. “We have been a client-centered firm for 140 years, and if our clients believe that we don’t deserve their trust we cannot survive.”

Mr. Blankfein will also testify that Goldman did not have a substantial, consistent short position in the mortgage market.

But at the press briefing in Washington, Carl Levin, the Democrat of Michigan who heads the Senate committee, insisted that Goldman had bet against its clients repeatedly. He held up a binder the size of two breadboxes that he said contained copies of e-mail messages and other documents that showed Goldman had put its own interests first.

“The evidence shows that Goldman repeatedly put its own interests and profits ahead of the interests of its clients,” Mr. Levin said.

Mr. Levin’s investigative staff released a summary of those documents, which are to be released in full on Tuesday. The summary included information on Abacus as well as new details about other complex mortgage deals.

On a page titled “The Goldman Sachs Conveyor Belt,” the subcommittee described five other transactions beyond the Abacus investment.

One, called Hudson Mezzanine, was put together in the fall of 2006 expressly as a way to create more short positions for Goldman, the subcommittee claims. The $2 billion deal was one of the first for which Goldman sales staff began to face dubious clients, according to former Goldman employees.

“Here we are selling this, but we think the market is going the other way,” a former Goldman salesman told The New York Times in December.

Hudson, like Goldman’s 25 Abacus deals, was a synthetic collateralized debt obligation, which is a bundle of insurance contracts on mortgage bonds. Like other banks, Goldman turned to synthetic C.D.O.’s to allow it to complete deals faster than the sort of mortgage securities that required actual mortgage bonds. These deals also created a new avenue for Goldman and some of its hedge fund clients to make negative bets on housing.

Goldman also had an unusual and powerful role in the Hudson deal that the Senate committee did not highlight: According to Hudson marketing documents, which were reviewed on Monday by The Times, Goldman was also the liquidation agent in the deal, which is the party that took it apart when it hit trouble.

The Senate subcommittee also studied two deals from early 2007 called Anderson Mezzanine 2007-1 and Timberwolf I. In total, these two deals were worth $1.3 billion, and Goldman held about $380 million of the negative bets associated with the two deals.

The subcommittee pointed to these deals as examples of how Goldman put its own interests ahead of clients. Mr. Levin read from several Goldman documents on Monday to underscore the point, including one in October 2007 that said, “Real bad feeling across European sales about some of the trades we did with clients. The damage this has done to our franchise is very significant.”

As the mortgage market collapsed, Goldman turned its back on clients who came knocking with older Goldman-issued bonds they had bought. One example was a series of mortgage bonds known as Gsamp.

“I said ‘no’ to clients who demanded that GS should ‘support the Gsamp’ program as clients tried to gain leverage over us,” a mortgage trader, Michael Swenson, wrote in his self-evaluation at the end of 2007. “Those were unpopular decisions but they saved the firm hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The Gsamp program was also involved in a dispute in the summer of 2007 that Goldman had with a client, Peleton Partners, a hedge fund founded by former Goldman workers that has since collapsed because of mortgage losses.

According to court documents reviewed by The Times on Monday, in June 2007, Goldman refused to accept a Gsamp bond from Peleton in a dispute over the securities that backed up a mortgage security called Broadwick. A Peleton partner was pointed in his response after Goldman refused the Gsamp bond.

“We do appreciate the unintended irony,” wrote Peter Howard, a partner at Peleton, in an e-mail message about the Gsamp bond.

Bank of America ended up suing Goldman over the Broadwick deal. The parties are awaiting a written ruling in that suit. Broadwick was one of a dozen or so so-called hybrid C.D.O.’s that Goldman created in 2006 and 2007. Such investments were made up of both mortgage bonds and insurance contracts on mortgage bonds.

While such hybrids have received little attention, one mortgage researcher, Gary Kopff of Everest Management, has pointed to a dozen other Goldman C.D.O.’s, including Broadwick, that were mixes of mortgage bonds and insurance policies. Those deals — with names like Fortius I and Altius I — may have been another method for Goldman to obtain negative bets on housing.

“It was like an insurance policy that Goldman stuck in the middle of the sandwich with all the other subprime bonds,” Mr. Kopff said. “And it was an insurance policy designed to protect them.”

An earlier version of this article misidentified Senator Levin’s home state.

Relatated Stories:

Shareholders Sue Goldman, Blankfein Confirming Trusts Do NOT Own the Loans

Spitzer & Black: Questions from the Goldman Scandal

Spitzer & Black: Questions from the Goldman Scandal

Monday, 04/26/2010 – 6:37 am by Eliot Spitzer and William Black 

money-question-150Spitzer and Black argue that the Goldman revelations underscore the need for serious financial reform.

For those who have spent years investigating fraud, it was no surprise to hear that Goldman Sachs, the (self-described) jewel of Wall Street, is the latest firm to emerge from the financial crisis with tarnished reputation. According to a lawsuit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Goldman misrepresented to its customers the quality of the toxic assets underlying a complex financial derivative known as a “synthetic collateralized debt obligation (CDO).”

As you may now have heard, the story involves a pair of Paulsons. As CEO of Goldman, Hank Paulson oversaw the buying of large amounts of CDOs backed by largely fraudulent “liar’s loans.” When he became U.S. Treasury Secretary, he went on to launch a successful war against securities and banking regulation. Hank Paulson’s successors at Goldman saw the writing on the wall and began to “short” CDOs. They realized that they had an unusual, brief window of opportunity to unload their losers on their customers. Being the very model of a modern investment banking firm, they thought that blowing up their customers would be fine sport.

John Paulson (unrelated), who controls a large hedge fund, also wanted to short CDOs and he, too, recognized that there was a narrow window for doing so. The reason there was a profit opportunity was that the “market” for toxic mortgages only appeared to be a functioning market. It was, in reality, a massive bubble in which ratings and “market” prices were grotesquely inflated. The inflated prices were continuing only because the huge players knew that the prices and races were fictional and were covering it up through the financial equivalent of “don’t ask; don’t tell.” According to the SEC complaint:

In January 2007, a Paulson employee explained the company’s view, saying that “rating agencies, CDO managers and underwriters have all the incentives to keep the game going, while ‘real money’ investors have neither the analytical tools nor the institutional framework to take action.”

We know from Bankruptcy Examiner Valukas’ report on Lehman that the Federal Reserve knew that the “market” prices were delusional and refused to require entities like Lehman to recognize their losses on “liar’s loans” for fear that it would expose the cover up of the losses. Valukas reports that Geithner explained to him when interviewed (p. 1502) that:

The challenge for the Government, and for troubled firms like Lehman, was to reduce risk exposure, and the act of reducing risk by selling assets could result in “collateral damage” by demonstrating weakness and exposing “air” in the marks.

Goldman and John Paulson worked together. One of the key things to understand about shorting is that it is extremely valuable if other major players short similar targets at the same time. By helping Paulson take advantage of Goldman’s customers (the ones that lacked “the analytical tools” to avoid being hosed), Goldman not only earned a substantial fee, but also aided its overall strategy of shorting the toxic paper.

Goldman created a deal in which John Paulson played a major role in selecting the toxic paper that would underlie the investment. He picked assets “most likely to fail – quickly” and studies show that he was particularly good at picking the losers. At this juncture, there is some dispute as to whether ACA was complicit with John Paulson and Goldman in picking losers (ACA initially invested in the synthetic CDO, but then transferred the risk of loss to German and English taxpayers).

What isn’t in dispute is that Goldman, ACA, and Paulson all failed to disclose to purchasers of the synthetic CDO that it was designed to be most likely to fail. The representation was the opposite: that the assets were picked by an independent entity with their interests at heart (ACA). Goldman claims it’s a victim because while it intended to sell its entire position in the synthetic CDO to its customers, it was unable to sell a chunk. One feels the firm’s pain. Goldman tried to blow up its customers to the tune of over $1 billion, but were unable to sell them the last $90 million in exposure.

The Goldman scandal raises several important questions: Did John Paulson and ACA know that Goldman was making these false disclosures to the CDO purchasers? Did they “aid and abet” what the SEC alleges was Goldman’s fraud? Why have there been no criminal charges? Why did the SEC only name a relatively low-level Goldman officer in its complaint? Where are the prosecutors?

In a December New York Times op ed, we, along with Frank Partnoy, asked for the public disclosure of AIG emails and key documents so that we can investigate the deceptive practices exposed by the Goldman case. Goldman used AIG to provide the CDS on most of these synthetic CDO deals (though not the particular one that is the subject of the SEC complaint), and Hank Paulson used tax payer money to secretly bail out Goldman when AIG’s deceptive practices drove it to failure.

The SEC’s Goldman fraud complaint points to fundamental problem in the financial sector that has been at the root of the financial crisis — one that still exists today. The market is not transparent. It has been fraudulently manipulated to enrich managers. Investors lack clear information to make decisions about what they are buying. A continuing absence of real consumer protections makes people like those trying to obtain mortgages before the crash understand that they were, in many cases, being ripped off. According to internal Goldman Sachs e-mails, the company vice president, 31-year old Fabrice Tourre, did not really understand the complex deals he was making. And yet we note that many of these Goldman-style deals were “insured” by AIG. Without transparency, regulators cannot properly see all these kinds of deals in the aggregate. So they can neither stop the fraud nor prevent catastrophic results.

We applaud the SEC lawsuit, but it will not solve the problem. Unless our financial system is reformed to put adequate protections and checks and balances in place, we can expect this kind of fraud to continue. Financial executives will continue to take risks they do not understand. Those who control the flow of capital will continue to churn out profits with socially disastrous consequences.

Related Stories:

Taibbi: Will Goldman Sachs Prove Greed Is God?

Jon Stewart on Goldman Sachs (Red Hot Energy and Gold – Global…, 4/20/10)

Taibbi: Will Goldman Sachs Prove Greed Is God?

Contributed by Philstockworld (Reporter)
// Sunday, April 25, 2010 7:59

Taibbi: Will Goldman Sachs Prove Greed Is God?

Gordon GeckoCourtesy of John Lounsbury

Matt Taibbi has a feature article in The Guardian which parodies the Gordon Gecko “Greed is good” statement from the film “Wall Street”. He carries the subject forward to develop a picture of Ayn Rand Objectivism taking over the world.

This is an article that will make some readers scream in disgust at the position Matt espouses and others scream in disgust at the Randian world he rants against. He concludes the article:

This debate is going to be crystallised in the Goldman case. Much of America is going to reflexively insist that Goldman’s only crime was being smarter and better at making money than IKB and ABN-Amro, and that the intrusive, meddling government (in the American narrative, always the bad guy!) should get off Goldman’s Armani-clad back. Another side is going to argue that Goldman winning this case would be a rebuke to the whole idea of civilisation – which, after all, is really just a collective decision by all of us not to screw each other over even when we can. It’s an important moment in the history of modern global capitalism: whether or not to move forward into a world of greed with out limits.

Taibbi’s conclusion is similar to my repeated belief that it is important for the SEC vs. Goldman Sachs case to go to trial so the convoluted financial processes involved can be presented and reviewed by both plaintiff and defendant. The nature of the machinations must be understood by the masses and the limits of current law must be defined in order to have a rational debate. We need a complete expose so we can make logical decisions about where the financial system should go from here.

Absent the trial or some other process of discovery we risk being doomed to divide into three camps:

  1. The Randians’ anything goes credo.
  2. Those who want to regulate everything to death.
  3. The vast majority who abandon hope of ever understanding enough to have an opinion.

We need a citizenry that understands what has happened to a sufficient extent to support some rational middle ground between the law of the jungle and all animals in zoo cages. 

More on this topic (What’s this?)

Jon Stewart on Goldman Sachs (Red Hot Energy and Gold – Global…, 4/20/10)

Read more on Goldman Sachs Group at Wikinvest


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Read the original story at Phil’s Stock World

Goldman’s “Fabulous” Fab’s conflicted love letters: Reuters

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON
Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:57pm EDT
(Reuters) – Fabrice Tourre and his girlfriend talked like a couple very much in love.They emailed back and forth about how they wanted to curl up in each other’s arms and how they looked forward to tender moments together. Tourre, a Goldman Sachs bond trader, also wrote in the emails of the impending collapse of the subprime mortgage market and how he was masterminding ways at Goldman to make money from it.

Little did they know that three years later these very personal emails written through Tourre’s Goldman Sachs e-mail account would become part of one of the biggest investigations into the subsequent financial crisis.

In the email exchanges between Tourre and his girlfriend, Marine Serres, Tourre comes off as a young, hotshot trader who foresaw the subprime meltdown while still selling shoddy subprime-backed products so prolifically he could peddle them to “widows and orphans.”

But Tourre — the only individual the Securities and Exchange Commission charged in its fraud case against the firm — also seems ethically conflicted.

“Anyway, not feeling too guilty about this, the real purpose of my job is to make capital markets more efficient and ultimately provide the U.S. consumer with more efficient ways to leverage and finance himself, so there is a humble, noble and ethical reason for my job 😉 amazing how good I am in convincing myself !!!” Tourre said in an e-mail to Serres in January 2007.

That portion of the e-mail reflecting Tourre’s conflicted views on his role in the subprime meltdown immediately followed another part of the e-mail that the SEC released in its complaint earlier this month.

The SEC’s complaint only included Tourre referring to himself as “fabulous Fab” and talking about “standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstrosities!!!”

The SEC left out Tourre’s ethical musings in its complaint.

Goldman Sachs released the Tourre emails over the weekend as it readies for its appearance before a Senate panel on Tuesday. Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein and Tourre are scheduled to testify, along with other former and current executives.

The collection of e-mails also show that Tourre was not the only person at Goldman with confidence the subprime market was doomed.

Daniel Sparks, a former head of the mortgages department at Goldman, is also expected to testify on Tuesday before the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

“According to Sparks, that business is totally dead, and the poor little subprime borrowers will not last so long!!!” Tourre wrote in a March 7, 2007, email to his girlfriend.

Tourre — who refers to Serres at one point as a “super-smart French girl in London” — also tells her about selling to unwitting investors the type of synthetic collateralized debt obligation, or CDO, at the center of the SEC case.

The SEC charges that Tourre and Goldman fraudulently marketed an “Abacus” CDO by hiding vital information from investors, including the role that hedge fund Paulson & Co played in picking mortgage products tied to the CDO. Paulson & Co betted against the CDO.

“Just made it to the country of your favorite clients!!! I’m managed (sic) to sell a few abacus bonds to widow and orphans that I ran into at the airport, apparently these Belgians adore synthetic abs cdo2,” Tourre wrote in June 2007.

Earlier in 2007, in an e-mail to a friend, Tourre shares his fears that the product he helped create is crumbling — and he has a sense of humor about it.

“It’s bizarre I have the sensation of coming each day to work and re-living the same agony – a little like a bad dream that repeats itself,” Tourre writes. “In sum, I’m trading a product which a month ago was worth $100 and which today is only worth $93 and which on average is losing 25 cents a day …That doesn’t seem like a lot but when you take into account that we buy and sell these things that have nominal amounts that are worth billions, well it adds up to a lot of money.”

He added, “When I think that I had some input into the creation of this product (which by the way is a product of pure intellectual masturbation, the type of thing which you invent telling yourself: “Well, what if we created a “thing”, which has no purpose, which is absolutely conceptual and highly theoretical and which nobody knows how to price?”) it sickens the heart to see it shot down in mid-flight… It’s a little like Frankenstein turning against his own investor ;)”

Tourre, 28 when he wrote the emails, reflects on the strangeness of being so young, yet being in such a critical role with pressures from those above him at the firm to make money.

“… I am now considered a “dinosaur” in this business (at my firm the average longevity of an employee is about 2-3 years!!!) people ask me about career advice. I feel like I’m losing my mind and I’m only 28!!! OK, I’ve decided two more years of work and I’m retiring.”

(Reporting by Steve Eder in New York and Karey Wutkowski in Washington; Editing by Bernard Orr)

SEC Inspector General to Launch Investigation on Timing of GOLDMAN SACHS Charges…

 

E-mails show Goldman boasting as meltdown unfolds

By DAN STRUMPF, AP

NEW YORK — E-mails released by a Senate committee investigating the financial crisis show top executives at Goldman Sachs Inc. boasting about money the firm was making as the housing market collapsed in 2007.

The documents suggest that Goldman benefited at least for a time from bets that subprime mortgage-backed securities would lose value. The e-mails appear to contradict previous statements by the investment bank that it lost money on such securities.

“Of course we didn’t dodge the mortgage mess,” CEO Lloyd Blankfein wrote in an e-mail dated Nov. 18, 2007, according to the documents released Saturday morning. “We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts.”

Short positions, in contrast to long positions, are bets that a financial security will lose value. Goldman is also the target of a civil fraud lawsuit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which alleges that the firm misled investors about how a subprime mortgage-backed security was created. Goldman has denied the charges.

The e-mails were released by Sen. Carl Levin’s office, who is presiding over an investigation into the financial crisis. Blankfein, along with other Goldman personnel, are scheduled to testify during a Senate hearing into the crisis on Tuesday.

In another e-mail, Goldman Chief Financial Officer David Viniar says that in one day the firm made more than $50 million on bets that the housing market would collapse, according to a statement from Levin’s office.

“Tells you what might be happening to people who don’t have the big short,” Viniar writes in the message dated July 25, 2007. Viniar is also scheduled to testify on Tuesday.

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