Posts Tagged ‘Carl Levin’

Goldman Sachs fails the ethics challenge

April 28, 2010

The Senate held a ten-hour hearing yesterday on Goldman Sachs’s role in the financial crisis. The question for the committee was whether new laws were needed to reform the financial system; the question for me was whether Goldman Sachs—America’s most prestigious investment bank—was serious about ethics.

The hearing was long, the members were irritable, the subject was complicated, and the Goldman Sachs executives were evasive when asked such tough questions as whether they had any obligation to act in the best interest of their clients. But two exchanges tell us unequivocally about ethics at Goldman Sachs. First, Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Goldman Sachs Chief Financial Officer David Viniar.

LEVIN: And when you heard that your employees, in these e-mails, when looking at these deals said, God, what a shitty deal, God what a piece of crap — when you hear your own employees or read about those in the e-mails, do you feel anything?

VINIAR: I think that’s very unfortunate to have on e-mail. [Laughter and groaning from the audience]

LEVIN: On an e-mail?

VINIAR: Please don’t take that the wrong way. I think it’s very unfortunate for anyone to have said that in any form.

LEVIN: How about to believe that and sell them? (more…)


An ethics challenge to Wall Street…from the U. S. Senate, of all places

April 24, 2010

In the wake of Wall Street scandals, collapses, bailouts, bonus billions, record profits, and now, according to the SEC, charges of fraud, the big show moves to Washington on Tuesday when the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Carl Levin (D-MI) will grill Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO, and six current and former Goldman people, including Fabrice “Fabulous Fab” Tourre. The show starts at 10 AM EDT.

Levin is a very bright, very tough, inquisitor who is not one of the 46 senators who have gotten major contributions from Goldman. Nor is the ranking Republican, Tom Coburn (R-OK). The committee has a long history of changing Americans’ attitudes and behaviors, going back to 1921. It may well start to change the way Americans think about ethics and business.

Blankfein will testify last. He’ll face an awful dilemma: Will he defend Goldman’s behavior—described by Business Week’s Michael Lewis as creating a billion dollar bond package to fail, tricking and bribing the ratings agencies into blessing the package, then selling it to a slow-witted German?

Or will he say that Fabulous Fab’s deal was inconsistent with Goldman’s ethical standards, and thereby give credence to the SEC’s charge of fraud?

What would you do?