Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Corporate power, corporate criminality and secret lobbying: Goldman Sachs

It has not been a good couple of weeks for Goldman Sachs.

A report by a bipartisan US Senate Committee  into US investment banks has recommended criminal charges be bought against Goldman Sachs . Goldman Sachs and other Wall St firms were described by the Senate Report  as a "financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest, and wrongdoing." 
Goldman Sachs, the nation's fifth-largest bank by assets, systematically misled clients, sold them financial instruments it knew to be junk, bet against them and profited off of their losses, according to a Senate report released this week.

The report, the product of a two-year investigation, paints the firm as Exhibit A of Wall Street's evolution from a place that raises and deploys capital to worthy businesses into a vulturous creature that preys on unwitting investors.

Goldman's conduct in the two years leading up to the near-implosion of the financial system show a firm dedicated to "sticking it to their own clients," said Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat who chairs the panel that produced the report. "Goldman gained at the expense of their clients, and used abusive practices to do it."
In the UK a  report published  by SpinWatch UK  exposes  Goldman Sachs political and financial lobbying muscle in the UK and Brussels (The European Parliament).

The report, entitled, Doing God’s Work: How Goldman Sachs Rigs the Game details Goldman Sachs’ secret lobbying activities in the UK and Brussels and links to politicians. It exposes:
  • The extensive links between Goldman Sachs and the Conservative Party;
  •   Political donations totalling £8.5million to British politicians in the past decade from Goldman and ex-Goldman people;
  •    Goldman Sachs’ immense lobbying machine in Brussels, including active membership of over a dozen financial sector lobby groups;
  •    Extensive meetings between Goldman Sachs and Conservative MEPs including: 9 meetings in six months with a key MEP on the Parliament’s Economics and Monetary Committee; and a total of 36 meetings between just four Tory MEPs and Goldman Sachs, its lobby groups or PR companies acting on their behalf;
  •   The bank’s lobbying campaign to undermine political reform on derivatives and alternative investment funds including: private dinners and unminuted "after office hours” meetings, high-level conferences and targeted campaigns to Commission officials, MEPs and their assistants;
  •   How Goldman Sach’s lobbyists tried to undermine amendments in a key report on derivatives, seen as “financial weapons of mass destruction”; 
  •   The bank’s lobbying enabled them to gamble on food futures and drive up prices.
Report author, journalist Andy Rowell said: “A year ago, David Cameron said that lobbying was the next big scandal waiting to happen. This report shows that banks like Goldman Sachs – who are intricately connected to the Tories – continue to lobby to get what they want."

Rowell continued: "The entire regulatory process - and the lobbying activity that surrounds it - has to become significantly more transparent and accountable. If it is allowed to be captured by bankers, the next financial crisis will only be a matter of time.”

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