Securities and Investments: FRAUD DIGEST by Lynn Szmoniak ESQ.

Securities and Investments: FRAUD DIGEST by Lynn Szmoniak ESQ.

Securities and Investments: FRAUD DIGEST by Lynn Szmoniak ESQ.

Securities and Investments

Abacus 2007-AC1
Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Fabrice Tourre

Action Date: April 16, 2010
Location: New York, NY

On April 16, 2010, the SEC filed securities fraud charges against Goldman, Sachs & Co. (“GS&Co”) and a GS&Co employee, Fabrice Tourre (“Tourre”), for making material misstatements and omissions in connection with a collateralized debt obligation (“CDO”) GS&Co made and marketed to investors. ABACUS 2007-AC1, a mortgage-backed trust, was tied to the performance of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities. Abacus was made and marketed in early 2007 when the United States housing market was beginning to show signs of distress. Mortgage-backed trusts like ABACUS 2007-AC1 contributed to the financial crisis. According to the Commission’s complaint, the marketing materials for ABACUS 2007-AC1 all represented that the reference portfolio of RMBS underlying the CDO was selected by ACA Management LLC (“ACA”), a third party with expertise in analyzing credit risk in RMBS. Undisclosed in the marketing materials and unbeknownst to investors, 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. After participating in the selection of the reference portfolio, Paulson effectively shorted the RMBS portfolio it helped select by entering into credit default swaps (“CDS”) with GS&Co to buy protection on specific layers of the ABACUS 2007-AC1 capital structure. Given its financial short interest, Paulson had an economic incentive to choose RMBS that it expected to experience credit events in the near future. GS&Co did not disclose Paulson’s adverse economic interest or its role in the portfolio selection process in the term sheet, flip book, offering memorandum or other marketing materials. The Commission alleges that Tourre was principally responsible for ABACUS 2007-AC1. According to the Commission’s complaint, Tourre devised the transaction, prepared the marketing materials and communicated directly with investors. Tourre is alleged to have known of Paulson’s undisclosed short interest and its role in the collateral selection process. He is also alleged to have misled ACA into believing that Paulson invested approximately $200 million in the equity of ABACUS 2007-AC1 (a long position) and, accordingly, that Paulson’s interests in the collateral section process were aligned with ACA’s when in reality Paulson’s interests were sharply conflicting. The deal closed on April 26, 2007. Paulson paid GS&Co approximately $15 million for structuring and marketing ABACUS 2007-AC1. By October 24, 2007, 83% of the RMBS in the ABACUS 2007-AC1 portfolio had been downgraded and 17% was on negative watch. By January 29, 2008, 99% of the portfolio had allegedly been downgraded. Investors in the liabilities of ABACUS 2007-AC1 are alleged to have lost over $1 billion. Paulson’s opposite CDS positions yielded a profit of approximately $1 billion. The Commission’s complaint, which was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, charges GS&Co and Tourre with violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, 15 U.S.C. §77q(a), Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 15 U.S.C. §78j(b) and Exchange Act Rule 10b-5, 17 C.F.R. §240.10b-5. The Commission seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits, prejudgment interest and civil penalties from both defendants.

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