By Lee Harris, Associate Professor of Law, University of Memphis, where he teaches coporate law. Prof. Harris' most recent article, "Shareholder Campaign Funds: A Campaign Subsidy Scheme for Corporate Elections," can be downloaded here.
Goldman Sachs has a stellar reputation. Even Warren Buffet, who recently plucked down around $5 billion to purchase a piece of the firm, trusts Goldman.
But, perhaps the Goldman magic is just that -- smoke, mirrors, a fancy outfit, a distractingly attractive assistant, a show built on illusion.
Consider the Securities and Exchange Commission's recent lawsuit against Goldman and the impending threat of criminal action against the firm for some of its conduct in allegedly deceiving investors and perhaps even helping instigate the mortgage meltdown and current financial crises.
With the lawsuit, Goldman joins the long list of other storied financial services companies that have been accused of misconduct recently, including AIG and Stanford Financial, among others.
According to the SEC, Goldman allegedly helped create, hype, recommend, and ultimately sell investments in housing that was doomed to fail. They charge that Goldman and the employee who allegedly helped size and package the doomed investment, Fabrice Tourre, a French national, committed fraud by failing to disclose details regarding the investment. One e-mail apparently from a Goldman employee, not the Frenchman, described such investments as "sh***y".
Excuse my French.