Goldman left foreign investors holding the subprime bag
By Greg Gordon | McClatchy Newspapers
NEW YORK — Inside the thick Goldman Sachs investment circular were the details of a secret, $2 billion deal channeled through a Caribbean tax haven.
The Sept. 26, 2006, document offered sophisticated U.S. and European investors an opportunity to buy into a pool of supposedly high-grade bonds backed by residential, commercial and student loans. The transaction was registered through a shell company in the Cayman Islands.
Few of the potential investors knew it, but the ratings of many of the mortgage securities hid their true risks and, in some cases, Goldman's descriptions exaggerated their quality.
The Cayman offering — one of perhaps dozens made through the British territory — occurred as Goldman began to ditch the subprime mortgage business before the U.S. housing market collapsed under an avalanche of homeowner defaults.
In all, Goldman sold more than $57 billion in risky mortgage-backed securities during a 14-month period in 2006 and 2007, including nearly $39 billion issued from mortgages it purchased. Meanwhile, the firm peddled billions of dollars in complex deals, many of them tied to subprime mortgages, in the Caymans and other offshore locations.
Many of those securities later soured, but the sales allowed Goldman to become the only major U.S. investment bank to escape the brunt of the subprime meltdown.
One bond analyst who reviewed the 2006 Cayman deal dismissed it in a report to clients as "a not so cleverly disguised way for Goldman Sachs & Co. to unload its unwanted exposures to the subprime real estate market onto foreign investors."
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