by Stephen Lendman
Goldman again got off scot-free. On August 9, the Justice Department dropped criminal fraud charges. Evidence the equivalent of enough firepower to sink a carrier battle group was buried and forgotten. More on what happened below.
Black's Law Dictionary says:
"Fraud consists of some deceitful practice or willful device, resorted to with intent to deprive another of his right, or in some manner to do him an injury."
It includes "all acts, omissions, and concealments which involve a breach of legal or equitable duty, trust, or confidence justly reposed, and are injurious to another, or by which an undue and unconscientious advantage is taken of another."
The legal dictionary calls fraud:
"A false representation of a matter of fact - whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed - that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury."
Criminal and civil frauds differ by level of proof required. The former needs a "preponderance of evidence." The latter must prove intent and be "beyond a reasonable doubt."
Goldman settled SEC charges for pennies on the dollar. What a business. Steal a fortune. Pay a pittance back. Goldman writes it off as operating cost.
Wall Street's business model reflects fraud and grand theft. Goldman steals with the best of them. Take away dirty money and the whole system collapses. It operates at the expense of investors and societies.
It profits hugely by swindling clients it calls "muppets." Small time con artists rip off marks. Goldman loots on a grand scale. Even nations are plundered for profits. It makes money the old-fashioned way. It steal and get away with it unaccountably.
No avenue with potential is ignored. It's an equal opportunity predator. Chairman/CEO Lloyd Blankfein calls it "doing God's work." Which one he didn't say. The Supreme Court ruled he and other Wall Street giants are immune from clients pursuing security fraud charges. Washington alone can sue.
Wall Street's culture encourages fraud. It's rewarded handsomely practically risk-free. The price for getting caught is chump change. It pales compared to fortunes stolen. Betting against Goldman faces long odds. Casino ones pay off better.
In April 2010, the SEC filed civil, not criminal, fraud charges. Goldman and one of its vice presidents was accused of defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts about junk assets tied to subprime mortgages.
Huge profits were made as the housing market faced collapsed. Structured and marketed synthetic collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) paid off big. Their performance depended on subprime residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS).
Goldman withheld vital information from investors. Doing so let the firm and hedge fund investor John Paulson make huge profits. They correctly bet against the housing market. They were touting junk as safe investments that collapsed.
Charges involved violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Exchange Act Rule 10b-5. The SEC sought "injunctive relief, disgorgement of profits, prejudgment interest, and financial penalties."
It settled for pennies on the dollar. It closed the books for $550 million. It amounted to about four 2009 revenue days. It hardly mattered. No executive was fined or imprisoned. Goldman was free to keep stealing. Headlines left details most vital to reveal unexplained. Only scammed clients understand.
In April 2011, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a report on how banking giants, federal regulators, and credit rating agencies conspired to crash the subprime mortgage market.
Around 40% of it discussed Goldman. It sold an alphabet soup of securitized junk. Garbage included mortgaged-backed securities (MBSs), collateralized mortgage obligations (CMOs), and various other assets structured to fail.
Combined, they sliced, diced, packaged, repackaged, and sold them in tranches to sophisticated and ordinary investors. Many bought them unwittingly through mutual funds, 401(k)s, pensions, and other investments.
The Senate listed federal security law violations. Goldman wasn't alone. Other major Wall Street banks conspired with financial partners to steal and get away with it. Justice Department officials and prosecutors got enough evidence to hang them.
Committee chairman Carl Levin said the panel's two-year probe found "a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest and wrongdoing." He recommended prosecution. He added:
"In my judgment, Goldman clearly misled their clients and they misled Congress."
On August 9, the Justice Department said it conducted "an exhaustive review of the report." It concluded that "based on the law and evidence as they exist at this time, there is not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution with respect to Goldman Sachs or its employees in regard to the allegations set forth in the report."
In other words, fraud charges don't matter. Whatever Goldman does is OK. Stealing is how it does business. Obama officials find no fault. Goldman expressed relief it's all over.
It knows Democrat and Republican Justice Department prosecutors won't lay a glove on them. It's free to make money by stealing it.
Its only obligation is regular campaign contribution kickbacks, insider trading tips, other ways for pols to profit and get rich, and financial officials like Bernanke, Geithner, and others at Treasury and the Fed getting sweet revolving door jobs out of Washington when or if they plan to leave.
Each side helps the other. Political and Wall Street crooks conspire to keep a sweet racket going. Corruption is a way of life. Congress, administrations, the judiciary, and scoundrel media go along. Laws are only for ordinary people. Predators are free to prey.
Accountability never mattered. Now it's laughable on its face. Bad as things are now, expect much worse ahead. Massive fraud before 2007 crisis conditions exacerbated hard times. Far greater trouble looms. Financial wars lay waste like ravaging armies.
It's the system, stupid. Profiteering from plunder is too repugnant to tolerate. It's lawless, dysfunctional, and corrupt. It's too far gone to fix. Building a world fit to live in requires tearing it down and starting over. Nothing less can work.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.