Rumors are floating that Federal prosecutors will investigate Goldman Sachs investment banker Matthew Korenberg, in relation to the ongoing investigation of the Raj Rajaratnam scandal. Korenberg is suspected of leaking information of a healthcare takeover to former hedge fund manager. Rajaratnam’s insider trading scheme involved trading activity in at least 12 separate companies, netted him millions and was the largest in hedge fund history.
Goldman Sachs has no comment on the investigation.
While its no secret that Wall Street bankers work a lot, the PR Department at Goldman Sachs might have had the biggest workload this year. While this investigation might not have a material effect on Goldman by itself, it is merely the latest in a string of accusations of illegal or unethical activities by Wall Street’s most prestigious firm. Here’s a roundup:
Diversity, or Lack Thereof (April 15th): In a sneaky, ingenious move by the New York City’s public pension funds, Goldman Sachs and MetLife have been effectively forced to release their diversity statistics. While companies have to report such statistics to the government, they generally aren’t required to publicly disclose the gender and racial makeup of their workforce. However since the pension fund, as a part of their assets, own significant equity of both companies, they are are demanding as shareholders for these figures to be publicly disclosed. The numbers haven’t come out, but if they are as slanted as many suspect, they can be sure to take more heat from the public.
$22 Million Fine For Trading Huddles (April 12th): Within investment there are traders and researchers who can only have access to public information. There are also bankers who work closely with corporation managements on deals that are material, non public. For obvious reasons, these two groups need to stay separate. The S.E.C. accused Goldman of not having the proper compliance to ensure that the “chinese wall” was truly waterproof, and slapped them with a $22 Million fine.
Sex Trafficking (March 31st): The website backpage.com which allegedly holds 70% of the market for prostitution adds and apparently is a huge venue for underage sex trafficking. The site is owned by Village Voice Media — a little close to home — in which Goldman has a small equity stake. While Goldman invested in Village Voice Media before they owned backpage.com and the author who uncovered this connection states “I have no reason to think that Goldman’s top executives knew of its connection to sex trafficking”, it’s not good to have your name and “sex trafficking” in the same sentence.
Greg Smith’s New York Times Op-ed:(March 13th): For those of you who haven’t read the letter yet, here’s a two sentence synopsis: Greg Smith, a former executive director at Goldman, wrote a public resignation citing the firms corrupt culture. In short, “I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.”
Yup, that’s the past six weeks for for Goldman in the news. While on the one hand, as the face of Wall Street, any potentially wrongdoings are quickly publicized, but on the other hand, you need to have a fair amount of wrongdoing to predicate such publicity. Our (halfhearted) sympathies go out to new chief of public relations, Richard Siewert Jr., who was hired on March 13th.