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Small Foreclosure Firm’s Big Bucks: Back Office Grossed $260M in 2009: ABAJOURNAL

Small Foreclosure Firm’s Big Bucks: Back Office Grossed $260M in 2009: ABAJOURNAL


Posted Apr 20, 2010 11:59 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

The Law Offices of David J. Stern has only about 15 attorneys, according to legal directories.

However, it’s the biggest filer of mortgage foreclosure suits in Florida, reports the Tampa Tribune. Aided by a back office that dwarfs the law firm, with a staff of nearly 1,000, the Miami area firm files some 5,800 foreclosure actions monthly.

The back-office operation, DJSP Enterprises, is publicly traded and hence must file financial reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It netted almost $45 million in 2009 on a little over $260 million in gross revenue that year. The mortgage meltdown of recent years apparently has been good to the company: In 2006, it earned a profit of $8.6 million on $40.4 million in revenue.

Stern, who is the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, could not be reached for comment, the newspaper says.

His law firm has been in the news lately, after one Florida judge dismissed a foreclosure case due to what he described as a “fraudulently backdated” mortgage document, and another said, in a hearing earlier this month concerning another of the Stern firm’s foreclosure cases, “I don’t have any confidence that any of the documents the court’s receiving on these mass foreclosures are valid.”

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Judge Dismisses Mortgage Foreclosure Over ‘Fraudulently Backdated’ Doc”

Posted in Law Offices Of David J. Stern P.A.Comments (1)

Is the SEC Case Against Goldman Sachs Being Staged for Political Advantage?

Is the SEC Case Against Goldman Sachs Being Staged for Political Advantage?


by Bill Sardi

Recently by Bill Sardi: Preparations Being Made To Move Fort Knox Gold Into Your Bank Account

 

What just happened to Wall Street, with the announcement that the Securities Exchange Commission has filed fraud charges against Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., is so damning that its impact had to be blunted by its late Friday afternoon release. It’s what government does when it doesn’t want the stock market to plunge. But government DOES want to play up to the public’s infuriation over continuing revelations of greed and fraud on Wall Street.

A Monday morning release of this story might have sent the entire stock market into a crash (Goldman Sachs Group Inc, stock is down 23.57 points, erasing ~$12 billion of market capitalization), and that’s because there are likely more fraudulent billion-dollar investments to be revealed.

The American public needs to first grasp a broader view of this event. The Administration in Washington DC, heading for an election in November that will surely be fueled with voter outrage, has decided to strike a seeming blow to Wall Street to strengthen its hand in pushing for financial reform. Yet it is so odd that politicians were the ones who allowed all this to happen (more on this below). Does anyone have an explanation why the SEC has only now decided to file charges involving a 2007 billion-dollar investment? Or why the investor who most benefited financially and who assembled this mortgage-backed investment, John Paulson, has yet to be charged with any wrongdoing?

The smoking gun: an e-mail

 
John Paulson, the billionaire  
   

Another piece of the intrigue here is that the primary provider of evidence in the case is a star Goldman Sachs trader, a Frenchman by birth, who has suddenly left the U.S. for Europe as this story hits the news outlets. Fabrice Tourre, a GS vice president, wrote an email in 2007 that is the smoking gun in this case. Did he leave the U.S. in fear for his life?

Mr. Tourre’s 2007 email, which said “the whole building is about to collapse now,” shortly before the bonds were sold, and which said he would be the only potential survivor, provides foreknowledge of the billion-dollar investment that was sure to fail. Tourre was “principally responsible” for piecing together this novel and new type of investment at GS. He was the point man for Paulson.

When Tourre produced a 65-page “flip book” that contained details of the billion-dollar investment, to be provided to potential investors, this provided the evidence that SEC needed for its case.

 
  Fabrice Tourre, 31-year-old Goldman Sachs vice president, who is reported to have fled the country with the announcement that a 2007 email he wrote is the “smoking gun” in the SECs case against GS.
   

Don’t get the false impression that Mr. Tourre is a whistleblower here. The SEC alleges Mr. Tourre misled investors about Paulson’s role, saying Paulson had invested millions of dollars in hopes the packaged mortgage bonds would rise in value. Of course, Mr. Tourre is not the target of the SEC complaint, Goldman Sachs is. Its senior management had full knowledge of this deal. From 2004 to 2007, Goldman Sachs had arranged about two dozen similar deals.

Nor should anyone get the false notion that Paulson let others do all his bidding. He was actively raising funds and selling investment groups on this kind of instrument for some time, going back to 2006. Paulson wanted to invent the invincible wager.

An article in The Wall Street Journal documents that a senior banker at Bear Stearns Companies turned down this trade, questioning the propriety of selling deals to investors that a bearish client had assembled. (Bear market traders bet that an investment will fall in value, while bull-market traders bet than an investment will rise in value.) 

 

Throw the book at them

Believe it or not, an entire book was written of this now infamous investment before the SEC took action.

Of interest is Greg Zuckerman, The Wall Street Journal’s senior reporter in this case, who wrote The Greatest Trade Ever, about this trade and others like it, long before the SEC took action. The jacket on this book says: “The behind-the-scenes story of how John Paulson defied Wall Street and made financial history.” The book, published in November of 2009, hardly made ripples on Wall Street or in the financial news press. The SEC was sitting on all this information for over two years and did nothing. It was waiting for the right political moment to strike.

Zuckerman’s book outlines how John Paulson assembled risky mortgage investments with another party, Goldman Sachs, investments that were sure to fail, and then bet against them. Goldman Sachs used its reputation to promote the packaged mortgage investment to an overseas investor without revealing it was in cahoots with Paulson. In fact, the overseas bank involved specifically said it would not proceed if the packaged mortgages had been assembled by Paulson.

Paulson made a killing – a billion dollars, and Goldman Sachs made millions assembling the deal from both sides. Paulson’s defense is that he made no misrepresentations, only Goldman Sachs did, but what of the ethics of this deal?

 

Yves Smith, author of Naked Capitalism, and head of Aurora Advisors, a management consulting group, and the author of the new book, Econned: How Unenlightened Self Interest Undermined Democracy and Corrupted Capitalism, calls the investment that John Paulson sponsored a “Trojan horse for Mr. Paulson to take a short position, betting against the very same investment he was creating, but his intent was not disclosed…. at the expense of investors who had been kept in the dark and would almost certainly have turned down the deal if they had had the full picture.”

Goldman Sachs living up to its now infamous reputation

It’s obvious now that Goldman Sachs will be the pin cushion for the Administration’s attempt to regain public credibility before the November election. Goldman Sachs is the villain, and it is doing a good job of playing this role.

Just prior to the revelations about the alleged Paulson/Goldman Sachs scandal, the SEC launched other charges against a Goldman Sachs director. Various news sources reported that Rajat Gupta of GS is being investigated on suspicion that he provided inside information to the Galleon Group, a hedge fund founded by Raj Rajaratnam that has now become the biggest insider-trading probe in many years. So the SEC could mire Goldman Sachs with even more allegations in an effort to bring the billion-dollar company to its knees.

This publicly-staged legal action resembles that of President Bill Clinton’s 1995 assault against the tobacco companies, which was launched under the guise of a threat to public health, but really had a political agenda – that of taking away millions of dollars of campaign funds that the tobacco industry was donating to the Republican Party at the time.

If you are as confused as everyone else what the SEC is fussing about, you might click here to take a peek at a graphic created by The Wall Street Journal which visually displays how the deal between John Paulson and Goldman Sachs was prearranged and marketed.

Of course, GS sees nothing wrong with this trade, which should ignite even further public outrage. GS needs a good public relations man at the moment as it digs an even deeper hole every time it attempts to defend its own actions. (Recall GS’ CEO Lloyd Blankfein who recently said he’s “doing God’s work.”)

Congress opened the door

To return to the government’s culpability in this case, the Commodities Futures Modernization Act which Congress passed a decade ago, opened the door for trades like John Paulson’s. This legislation eliminated the long-standing rule that derivatives bets made outside regulated exchanges are legally enforceable only if one the parties involved in the bet were hedging against a pre-existing risk. Prior regulations said the only people who can bet against an investment actually have to own shares in it. Here is Paulson betting against an investment he had no ownership in.

 

The Commodities Futures Modernization Act is akin to allowing unscrupulous investors to buy fire insurance on other people’s houses, says Lynn A. Stout, Paul Hastings Professor of corporate and securities law at UCLA. A rise in arson would surely occur to collect on the investment.

Or like Rick Edelson, an online blogger speaking out in the New York Times, says: “Like the arsonist who buys insurance on another man’s house, Goldman and Paulson did everything they could to burn down the American economy, because it was only by destroying others’ wealth that they could maximize their own profit.”

Good God, do these men see in their greed they have scuttled the American economy, as well as faith in Wall Street investments that fund most pension plans?

When Paulson made billions, Wall Street was not quick to condemn. He got away with it, and that was to be applauded. Some investment bloggers said “well done.” Another said Paulson is “an investing stud. He is to be hailed for his moxie and superior forecasting.”

 

Other defenders of Wall Street claim Paulson didn’t create a real estate market with collapsing home values. But to package non-performing mortgages and then bet against them is like a rigged horse race.

Scripting for a thrilling end

For sure, the Administration in Washington DC will be portrayed in coming months as the hero, rescuing the public from the blood-suckers on Wall Street. Be it government to save us all from problems it created and then pin a badge of honor on itself. The current and former administrations in Washington DC are, and have been, so tightly controlled and managed by Wall Street, even with its ex-CEOs strategically implanted within the Executive Branch, as to call all alleged reforms and sanctions into question. These are just for show.

Goldman Sachs and its billions will face off against the might of US prosecutors with the President’s credibility on the line. Will a publicized trial be showcased on TV? It could become the high drama that the government wants to keep before the public’s eyes, all the way up to the November election.

Will Paulson squirm out of any legal consequences in the same manner as O.J. Simpson when he was asked to put an ill-fitting glove on his hand in a televised hearing? Will the President be able to control himself and not chime in like he did when he said Cambridge, Massachusetts police officers “acted stupidly” when they arrested a renowned black scholar at his home?

Goldman Sachs knows it has to make the President look good or there will be unending SEC prosecution. The public wants to know whose side is the President is on, the financial titans on Wall Street or the unemployed on Main Street? It will be scripted from the beginning.

And now a final question – will Goldman Sachs be the fall guy in exchange for future favors from the government? If fines are handed out and nobody goes to jail, you will know this was likely preplanned. Will Fabrice Tourre serve as the scapegoat? He’s sure to stay outside the country for his own good. Don’t be so naïve as to not believe much of what you see happening is being staged. That’s how politics works. It’s all about political advantage, not law and order, not right and wrong.

  1.  

April 19, 2010

Bill Sardi [send him mail] is a frequent writer on health and political topics. His health writings can be found at www.naturalhealthlibrarian.com. He is the author of You Don’t Have To Be Afraid Of Cancer Anymore. His latest book is Downsizing Your Body.

Copyright © 2010 Bill Sardi Word of Knowledge Agency, San Dimas, California. This article has been written exclusively for www.LewRockwell.com and other parties who wish to refer to it should link rather than post at other URLs. 

The Best of Bill Sardi

Posted in concealment, conspiracy, corruption, goldman sachs, S.E.C.Comments (0)

For those of you who like "irony": LPS meets Goldman

For those of you who like "irony": LPS meets Goldman


Anytime you have the word “FRAUD” involved in an on-going investigation, It makes you wonder when corps go at it together even more…click the links below to see what I mean.

Lender Processing Services, Inc. (NYSE: LPS) climbed 1.16% to $37.42 after Goldman Sachs upgraded the company’s share from Neutral to Buy with an one year price target of $48.

Posted in foreclosure fraudComments (2)

Merrill Lynch Accused of Same Fraud as Goldman Sachs; House of Cards are beginning to fall: Bloomberg

Merrill Lynch Accused of Same Fraud as Goldman Sachs; House of Cards are beginning to fall: Bloomberg


This is going to unleash a domino effect! Come one, Come all! Anyone buying these CDO’s from these fraudsters need to get examined!

Interested to see their stock this week??

 

 

Merrill Used Same Alleged Fraud as Goldman, Bank Says (Update1)

By William McQuillen

April 17 (Bloomberg) — Merrill Lynch & Co. engaged in the same investor fraud that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused Goldman Sachs Group Inc. of committing, according to a bank that sued the firm in New York last year.

Cooperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank BA, known as Rabobank, claims Merrill, now a unit of Bank of America Corp., failed to tell it a key fact in advising on a synthetic collateralized debt obligation. Omitted was Merrill’s relationship with another client betting against the investment, which resulted in a loss of $45 million, Rabobank claims.

Merrill’s handling of the CDO, a security tied to the performance of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities, mirrors Goldman Sachs conduct that the SEC details in the civil complaint the agency filed yesterday. It claimed Goldman omitted the same key fact about a financial product tied to subprime mortgages as the U.S. housing market was starting to falter.

“This is the tip of the iceberg in regard to Goldman Sachs and certain other banks who were stacking the deck against CDO investors,” said Jon Pickhardt, an attorney with Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, who is representing Netherlands-based Rabobank.

“The two matters are unrelated and the claims today are not only unfounded but weren’t included in the Rabobank lawsuit filed nearly a year ago,” Bill Halldin, a Merrill spokesman, said yesterday of the Dutch bank’s claims.

Kenneth Lench, head of the SEC’s Structured and New Products unit, said yesterday that the agency “continues to investigate the practices of investment banks and others involved in the securitization of complex financial products tied to the U.S. housing market as it was beginning to show signs of distress.”

Failed to Disclose

In its complaint, the SEC said New York-based Goldman Sachs, which had a record $13.4 billion profit last year, failed to disclose to investors that hedge fund Paulson & Co. was betting against the CDO, known as Abacus, and influenced the selection of securities for the portfolio. Paulson, which oversees $32 billion and didn’t market the CDO, wasn’t accused of wrongdoing by the SEC.

Goldman Sachs, the most profitable securities firm in Wall Street history, created and sold CDOs tied to subprime mortgages in early 2007, as the U.S. housing market faltered, without disclosing that Paulson helped pick the underlying securities and bet against them, the SEC said in a statement yesterday.

The SEC allegations are “unfounded in law and fact, and we will vigorously contest them,” Goldman said in a statement.

Merrill Lynch’s arrangement involved Magnetar, a hedge fund that bet against a CDO known as Norma, Rabobank claimed.

Effort to Replicate

“When one major firm becomes aware of the creative instrument of others, there is historically an effort to replicate them,” said Jacob Frenkel, a former SEC lawyer now in private practice in Potomac, Maryland.

SEC spokesman John Heine declined to comment on whether it is investigating Merrill’s actions.

Norma’s largest investor was investment bank Cohen & Co, with more than $100 million in notes, according to Rabobank’s complaint.

Merrill loaded the Norma CDO with bad assets, Rabobank claims. Rabobank seeks $45 million in damages, according to a complaint filed in state court in June 2009. Rabobank initially provided a secured loan of almost $60 million to Merrill, according to its complaint.

Risks Disclosed

Merrill countered in court papers that Rabobank was aware of the risks, which were disclosed in the transaction documents. The bank should have been responsible for conducting its own due diligence, and shouldn’t have relied on Merrill, it said in a court filing last year seeking to dismiss the case.

Steve Lipin, an outside spokesman for Magnetar, didn’t immediately comment.

The case is Cooperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen- Boerenleenbank, B.A. v. Merrill Lynch & Co, 09-601832, New York State Supreme Court (New York County).

To contact the reporter on this story: William McQuillen in Washington at bmcquillen@bloomberg.net.

Last Updated: April 16, 2010 23:03 EDT

Posted in concealment, conspiracy, corruption, goldman sachs, hank paulson, john paulson, Merrill Lynch, S.E.C.Comments (0)

MATT TAIBBI: Goldman Sachs "VAMPIRE SQUID"

MATT TAIBBI: Goldman Sachs "VAMPIRE SQUID"


The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it’s everywhere. The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beb2jBijo-s]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsRtjYWNZQ8]

TYX91101 Taibbi’s excellent articles alone are worth the price of the magazine. There have been several. He’s doing a commendable? job of putting Wall Street monkey business into the public consciousness. You never get that kind of reporting on CNBC. Great work Matt! 6 hours ago
overseachininadoll Those who greatly benefited from the? crash must hand back the money. (Paulson company) 14 hours ago
Relugus Alot more than the sycophantic financial journalists who kiss Wall Street’s ass.? Wall Street has been screwing people, stealing taxpayers money, stealing wealth from the people, for decades. People are slowly waking up to what Wall Street is, a bunch of criminals and gangsters. 18 hours ago
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Posted in concealment, conspiracy, corruption, goldman sachs, hank paulson, john paulson, matt taibbiComments (0)

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.

Posted in concealment, conspiracy, corruption, FED FRAUD, federal reserve board, fraud digest, goldman sachs, Lynn Szymoniak ESQ, S.E.C., scamComments (0)

SEC Charges Goldman Sachs With Fraud: Complaint Reveals Discovery Tips

SEC Charges Goldman Sachs With Fraud: Complaint Reveals Discovery Tips


Posted on April 16, 2010 by Neil Garfield

“The Commission seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits, prejudgment interest and civil penalties from both defendants.” Editor’s Note: Here is where the rubber meets the road. This same pool of illegal fraudulent profit is also subject to being defined as an undisclosed yield spread premium due to the borrowers. Some enterprising class action lawyer has some low hanging fruit here — the class is already defined for you by the SEC — all those homeowners subject to loan documents that were pledged or transferred into a pool which was received or incorporated by reference into this Abacus vehicle)

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Litigation Release No. 21489 / April 16, 2010

Securities and Exchange Commission v. Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Fabrice Tourre, 10 Civ. 3229 (BJ) (S.D.N.Y. filed April 16, 2010)

The SEC Charges Goldman Sachs With Fraud In Connection With The Structuring And Marketing of A Synthetic CDO

The Securities and Exchange Commission today 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 synthetic collateralized debt obligation (“CDO”) GS&Co structured and marketed to investors. This synthetic CDO, ABACUS 2007-AC1, was tied to the performance of subprime residential mortgage-backed securities (“RMBS”) and was structured and marketed in early 2007 when the United States housing market and the securities referencing it were beginning to show signs of distress. Synthetic CDOs like ABACUS 2007-AC1 contributed to the recent financial crisis by magnifying losses associated with the downturn in the United States housing market.

According to the Commission’s complaint, the marketing materials for ABACUS 2007-AC1 — including the term sheet, flip book and offering memorandum for the CDO — 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”) [Editor’s Note: Brad Keiser in his forensic analyses has reported that Paulson may have been a principal in OneWest which took over Indymac and may have ties with former Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson, former GS CEO], 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.

The Commission’s investigation is continuing into the practices of investment banks and others that purchased and securitized pools of subprime mortgages and the resecuritized CDO market with a focus on products structured and marketed in late 2006 and early 2007 as the U.S. housing market was beginning to show signs of distress.

Posted in concealment, conspiracy, corruption, goldman sachs, hank paulson, john paulson, livinglies, neil garfield, onewest, S.E.C., scamComments (0)

U.S. Accuses Goldman Sachs of Fraud: THE NEW YORK TIMES

U.S. Accuses Goldman Sachs of Fraud: THE NEW YORK TIMES


U.S. Accuses Goldman Sachs of Fraud

Brendan McDermid/Reuters The new Goldman Sachs global headquarters in Manhattan.
By LOUISE STORY and GRETCHEN MORGENSON “GOTTA LOVE THESE TWO FOR THEIR EXCELLENT WORK”
Published: April 16, 2010

Goldman Sachs, which emerged relatively unscathed from the financial crisis, was accused of securities fraud in a civil suit filed Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which claims the bank created and sold a mortgage investment that was secretly devised to fail.

The move marks the first time that regulators have taken action against a Wall Street deal that helped investors capitalize on the collapse of the housing market. Goldman itself profited by betting against the very mortgage investments that it sold to its customers.

The suit also named Fabrice Tourre, a vice president at Goldman who helped create and sell the investment.

The instrument in the S.E.C. case, called Abacus 2007-AC1, was one of 25 deals that Goldman created so the bank and select clients could bet against the housing market. Those deals, which were the subject of an article in The New York Times in December, initially protected Goldman from losses when the mortgage market disintegrated and later yielded profits for the bank.

As the Abacus deals plunged in value, Goldman and certain hedge funds made money on their negative bets, while the Goldman clients who bought the $10.9 billion in investments lost billions of dollars.

According to the complaint, Goldman created Abacus 2007-AC1 in February 2007, at the request of John A. Paulson, a prominent hedge fund manager who earned an estimated $3.7 billion in 2007 by correctly wagering that the housing bubble would burst.

Goldman let Mr. Paulson select mortgage bonds that he wanted to bet against — the ones he believed were most likely to lose value — and packaged those bonds into Abacus 2007-AC1, according to the S.E.C. complaint. Goldman then sold the Abacus deal to investors like foreign banks, pension funds, insurance companies and other hedge funds.

But the deck was stacked against the Abacus investors, the complaint contends, because the investment was filled with bonds chosen by Mr. Paulson as likely to default. Goldman told investors in Abacus marketing materials reviewed by The Times that the bonds would be chosen by an independent manager.

“The product was new and complex, but the deception and conflicts are old and simple,” Robert Khuzami, the director of the S.E.C.’s division of enforcement, said in a statement. “Goldman wrongly permitted a client that was betting against the mortgage market to heavily influence which mortgage securities to include in an investment portfolio, while telling other investors that the securities were selected by an independent, objective third party.”

Mr. Paulson is not being named in the lawsuit. In the half-hour after the suit was announced, Goldman Sachs’s stock fell by more than 10 percent.

In recent months, Goldman has repeatedly defended its actions in the mortgage market, including its own bets against it. In a letter published last week in Goldman’s annual report, the bank rebutted criticism that it had created, and sold to its clients, mortgage-linked securities that it had little confidence in.

“We certainly did not know the future of the residential housing market in the first half of 2007 anymore than we can predict the future of markets today,” Goldman wrote. “We also did not know whether the value of the instruments we sold would increase or decrease.”

The letter continued: “Although Goldman Sachs held various positions in residential mortgage-related products in 2007, our short positions were not a ‘bet against our clients.’ ” Instead, the trades were used to hedge other trading positions, the bank said.

In a statement provided in December to The Times as it prepared the article on the Abacus deals, Goldman said that it had sold the instruments to sophisticated investors and that these securities “were popular with many investors prior to the financial crisis because they gave investors the ability to work with banks to design tailored securities which met their particular criteria, whether it be ratings, leverage or other aspects of the transaction.”

Goldman was one of many Wall Street firms that created complex mortgage securities — known as synthetic collateralized debt obligations — as the housing wave was cresting. At the time, traders like Mr. Paulson, as well as those within Goldman, were looking for ways to short the overheated market.

Such investments consisted of insurance-like policies written on mortgage bonds. If the mortgage market held up and those bonds did well, investors who bought Abacus notes would have made money from the insurance premiums paid by investors like Mr. Paulson, who were negative on housing and had bought insurance on mortgage bonds. Instead, defaults spread and the bonds plunged, generating billion of dollars in losses for Abacus investors and billions in profits for Mr. Paulson.

For months, S.E.C. officials have been examining mortgage bundles like Abacus that were created across Wall Street. The commission has been interviewing people who structured Goldman mortgage deals about Abacus and other, similar instruments. The S.E.C. advised Goldman that it was likely to face a civil suit in the matter, sending the bank what is known as a Wells notice.

Mr. Tourre was one of Goldman’s top workers running the Abacus deal, peddling the investment to investors across Europe. Raised in France, Mr. Tourre moved to the United States in 2000 to earn his master’s in operations at Stanford. The next year, he began working at Goldman, according to his profile in LinkedIn.

He rose to prominence working on the Abacus deals under a trader named Jonathan M. Egol. Now a managing director at Goldman, Mr. Egol is not being named in the S.E.C. suit.

Goldman structured the Abacus deals with a sharp eye on the credit ratings assigned to the mortgage bonds associated with the instrument, the S.E.C. said. In the Abacus deal in the S.E.C. complaint, Mr. Paulson pinpointed those mortgage bonds that he believed carried higher ratings than the underlying loans deserved. Goldman placed insurance on those bonds — called credit-default swaps — inside Abacus, allowing Mr. Paulson to short them while clients on the other side of the trade wagered that they would not fail.

But when Goldman sold shares in Abacus to investors, the bank and Mr. Tourre only disclosed the ratings of those bonds and did not disclose that Mr. Paulson was on other side, betting those ratings were wrong.

Mr. Tourre at one point complained to an investor who was buying shares in Abacus that he was having trouble persuading Moody’s to give the deal the rating he desired, according to the investor’s notes, which were provided to The Times by a colleague who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to release them.

In seven of Goldman’s Abacus deals, the bank went to the American International Group for insurance on the bonds. Those deals have led to billions of dollars in losses at A.I.G., which was the subject of an $180 billion taxpayer rescue. The Abacus deal in the S.E.C. complaint was not one of them.

That deal was managed by ACA Management, a part of ACA Capital Holdings, which changed its name in 2008 to Manifold Capital Holdings.

Goldman at first intended for the deal to contain $2 billion of mortgage exposure, according to the deal’s marketing documents, which were given to The Times by an Abacus investor.

On the cover of that flip-book, it says that the mortgage bond portfolio would be “selected by ACA Management.”

In that flip-book, it says that Goldman may have long or short positions in the bonds. It does not mention Mr. Paulson or say that Goldman was in fact short.

The Abacus deals deteriorated rapidly when the housing market hit trouble. For instance, in the Abacus deal in the S.E.C. complaint, 84 percent of the mortgage bonds underlying it were downgraded by rating agencies just five months later, according to a UBS report.

It takes time for such mortgage investments to pay out for investors who short them, like Mr. Paulson. Each deal is structured differently, but generally, the bonds underlying the investment must deteriorate to a certain point before short-sellers get paid. By the end of 2007, Mr. Paulson’s credit hedge fund was up 590 percent.

Mr. Paulson’s firm, Paulson & Company, is paid a management fee and 20 percent of the annual profits that its funds generate, according to a Paulson investor document from late 2008 titled “Navigating Through the Crisis.”

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