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According to the Collins English Dictionary 10th Edition fraud can be defined as: "deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage".[1] In the broadest sense, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud, but there have also been fraudulent "discoveries", e.g. in science, to gain prestige rather than immediate monetary gain
*As defined in Wikipedia

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Goldman Sachs and Corporate Fraud

Many concerned economists and other individuals are busy analyzing why there have been no prosecutions of executives at the big banks, like Goldman Sachs, whose acts of securitization of sub-prime mortgages helped bring about the near collapse of the financial system in the US and the world. There is a lot of information about the unethical practices of Goldman Sachs in the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) report and in the Levin-Coburn report of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, both released in 2011.

It is a puzzle, in a country that prides itself on the fairness of its justice system, its freedom of expression and its disdain for corruption and bribery, how it has been caught up in the slow decline of all these areas.

People in the highest reaches of the government have instead opted to paper over the debt crisis of the banks who have not had to acknowledge the debt that is still on their books. (Paper over as a euphemism for fraud?)

We are beginning to understand just how banal and insidious is the slow path towards corruption and fraud that we witness in banks like Goldman Sachs (see the reports above).

But perhaps what will eventually happen is a death by a thousand cuts (lawsuits) as there have been a large number of these suits and Goldman Sachs has set aside $3.4 billion in anticipation of having to settle them. At present, however, Goldman Sachs has one of the lowest brands in corporate reputation rankings.

The latest lawsuit against Goldman Sachs involves Thornburg Mortgage Inc. whose court-appointed trustee is suing Wall Street banks and alleging "collusive" and "predatory" schemes that led to the bankruptcy of Thornburg. Goldman Sachs is being sued for $71 million for trying "to seize hundreds of millions of dollars of investment-grade mortgage bonds that Thornburg had pledged as collateral."

Jeffery Sachs observes and comments on corporate fraud in America:

The Global Economy's Corporate Crime Wave
By Jeffrey D. Sachs - Project-Syndicate

NEW YORK – The world is drowning in corporate fraud, and the problems are probably greatest in rich countries – those with supposedly “good governance.” Poor-country governments probably accept more bribes and commit more offenses, but it is rich countries that host the global companies that carry out the largest offenses. Money talks, and it is corrupting politics and markets all over the world.

Hardly a day passes without a new story of malfeasance. Every Wall Street firm has paid significant fines during the past decade for phony accounting, insider trading, securities fraud, Ponzi schemes, or outright embezzlement by CEOs. A massive insider-trading ring is currently on trial in New York, and has implicated some leading financial-industry figures. And it follows a series of fines paid by America’s biggest investment banks to settle charges of various securities violations.

There is, however, scant accountability. Two years after the biggest financial crisis in history, which was fueled by unscrupulous behavior by the biggest banks on Wall Street, not a single financial leader has faced jail. When companies are fined for malfeasance, their shareholders, not their CEOs and managers, pay the price. The fines are always a tiny fraction of the ill-gotten gains, implying to Wall Street that corrupt practices have a solid rate of return. Even today, the banking lobby runs roughshod over regulators and politicians.

Read the entire article and see the video here


Anonymous said...

Maybe they want the royal treatment, too?

Goldman Cheats and Wins Again: Gets Special Treatment in UK Tax Abuse Settlement

How does Goldman get away with it again and again? Is it simply bribery? Well, we don’t call it bribes in advanced economies, since big fish typically have more complicated and indirect ways of rewarding people who help them out, but it amounts to the same thing. Or do they have the five by seven glossies on people in key positions of influence?

Joyce said...

Thanks for the Anonymous link. A good example of Goldman Sachs doing "wink, wink; nod, nod" and it's all okay.

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