April 19, 2010

SEC Charges Goldman Sachs With Fraud

Charges related to mortgage markets and "undisclosed" interests that helped hedge fund pocket $1 billion.

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  • Risk-Based Oversight of Investment Advisors Even if the SEC had a larger budget and more resources, it is doubtful that the Commission would have the resources to regularly examine all RIAs. Therefore, the SEC is likely to continue relying on risk-based oversight to fulfill its mission of protecting investors.
  • Client Communication and Miscommunication RIA policies and procedures must specify what type of communications should be retained. The safest course of action is for RIAs to retain all communications—to clients, from clients, and about client accounts.  To comply with fiduciary obligations, communications must be thorough and not mislead.
This news article originally appeared on WealthManagerWeb.com on 4/16/2010. The SEC charged Goldman Sachs & Co. (GS&Co), and an employee, Fabrice Tourre, with fraud on April 16, "for making materially misleading statements and omissions in connection with a synthetic collateralized debt obligation ("CDO") GS&Co structured and marketed to investors," according to the SEC complaint. The SEC demanded a jury trial in this case.

The underlying portfolio of securities that backed the synthetic collateralized debt obligation (CDO), named "ABACUS 2007-AC1," was connected to the performance of residential subprime mortgage backed securities (RMBS). The SEC complaint alleges it was not disclosed to investors that "a large hedge fund, Paulson & Co. Inc. ("Paulson"), with economic interests directly adverse to investors in the ABACUS 2007-AC1 CDO, played a significant role in the portfolio selection process."

http://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/2010/comp-pr2010-59.pdf

The SEC further alleges that Paulson & Co., Inc., "effectively shorted the portfolio," by creating credit default swaps (CDS), with Goldman Sachs, and that Paulson, because of this "short interest," had "economic incentive" to pick RBMS that it expected would drop in value for the portfolio.

Comments? Please send them to kmcbride@wealthmanagerweb.com. Kate McBride is editor in chief of Wealth Manager and a member of The Committee for the Fiduciary Standard.
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