Author: Schrieber, Andrew
Source: Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University
Company Name: Goldman Sachs
Number of pages: 18
On April 16, 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Goldman Sachs and Vice President Fabrice Tourre with defrauding investment client ACA Management LLC (ACA) through the preparation and marketing of a financial product linked to subprime, or second-rate, mortgages. This financial instrument, entitled Abacus 2007-AC1 (Abacus), had been created specifically for an institutional client, John Paulson, the manager of the hedge fund Paulson & Company. When Goldman traders met with ACA they presented an array of possible mortgage investments from which ACA could select. As was made apparent in the subsequent S.E.C investigation, however, during its interactions with ACA, Goldman deliberately misled the company to believe that Paulson & Company was also investing in Abacus. In actuality, Paulson & Company was making the opposite investment wager, with the expectation that Abacus would lose money. Paulson’s firm, with Goldman’s assistance, was betting that the housing market would collapse.
Coming on the heels of the financial crisis, this behavior epitomized to many the erosion of integrity within the financial industry that had occurred following the regulatory reforms in the 1980s and late 1990s. Observers point to a number of changes over those decades that contributed to a fundamental, and negative, shift in internal practices and organizational culture. These changes include a shift from the partnership model toward the publicly traded bank and a loosening of governmental regulatory reins. This case study examines the evolution of the modern financial industry and the organizational and structural shifts within Wall Street banks that led to the case against Goldman Sachs.