08 September 2010

Goldman Faces "Near Record Fine" In London

Even this 'near record fine' is likely to be little more than a wrist slap, a manageable cost of doing business compared to the massive profits and bonuses obtained from such dealings.

It appears that financial regulations such as the Volcker rule are getting some traction with Goldman and their ilk, compelling them to spin off their proprietary trading desks to institutions that do not drink so directly from the subsidies of the Federal Reserve.

Still, regulation is not a set of rules, but a mindset to enforcement and investigation for the many, with no favoritism shown to the powerful few.

Financial fraud has been a major export from the US for the past ten years. As we have noted elsewhere, New York financial firms may find themselves persona non grata in many of the overseas markets, especially the sovereign financial asset markets, which they have abused repeatedly from their US and London centers.

Financial Times
Goldman now faces large fine in UK
By Megan Murphy and Brooke Masters in London
and Francesco Guerrera and Henny Sender in New York
September 8 2010 20:05

Goldman Sachs is facing a near-record fine from the UK’s financial regulator following a five-month investigation into the investment bank’s international business initiated in the wake of fraud charges against the company in the US.

The fine, which could be announced by the Financial Services Authority as early as Thursday morning, will deal a blow to Goldman’s efforts to put the high-profile fraud case behind it following the bank’s settlement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission probe in July for $550m.

The largest fine handed down by the UK regulator came three months ago, when JPMorgan paid a £33.3m for failing to keep client money in separate accounts.

Goldman, the world’s best-known investment bank, has seen its reputation tarnished in recent months as questions continue to swirl over whether it favoured the interests of some clients at the expense of others during the financial crisis.

The bank’s business model is also under pressure amid volatile markets and regulatory reforms that have forced it to shut some of its highly profitable “proprietary” trading operations.

On Wednesday it emerged that KKR, the private equity firm, is in early talks with individuals in Goldman Sachs’ proprietary trading group that could lead to the hiring of a number of Goldman’s key people.

In settling the Abacus case with the SEC, Goldman said it made a “mistake,” but it neither admitted nor denied the agency’s allegations. Fabrice Tourre, the Goldman trader whose boastful emails about the deal were at the centre of the complaint, is still fighting charges brought against him by the SEC.

People familiar with the fine that will be levied on the bank by the FSA say that it is not based specifically on the Abacus transaction, but is the result of its investigation into the bank’s business practices in London sparked by the SEC allegations.

The FSA’s decision to launch its own inquiry, announced four days after the SEC case, was questioned by some legal experts at the time given that the Abacus deal was structured in the US. However, the SEC alleged that one of the biggest losers was IKB, the German bank