SEC Should Take Goldman Sachs Olive Branch and Run
It's being reported that Goldman Sachs has opened a back channel of communication with the SEC, and may be offering to cop to a lesser plea and pay a fine in order to make the Abacus fraud case go away. If there's anyone with any brains at the SEC (and that's a big "if"), they'd take whatever deal Goldman Sachs is willing to make and put one in the WIN column.
I say this not because Goldman Sachs isn't guilty of at least heinously unethical behavior and probably some semblance of fraud, but because the SEC can't win this case and losing it might be the end of the SEC altogether. I've got no great love for the SEC, and certainly no respect for their questionable ability to prevent even obvious fraud (Madoff), but there has to be a cop -- even if it's a Keystone Cop. Another high-profile loss and it's all over for them.
A settlement is a win for both parties. The feds get their victory lap, and Goldman Sachs gets off without admitting guilt of fraud. Goldman Sachs stock has dropped 20% since the charges were revealed, so obviously the bank would like to mitigate that. And it's also a step in the right direction PR-wise.
The move is part of Goldman's detoxification strategy as it attempts to head off aggressive attacks on the banks from politicians and pressure groups. The bank is now also considering appointing a handful of outsiders to its new high-profile ethics and standards committee, which will be charged with cleansing the bank's reputation.
Smart move on Golman Sachs's part. Now we'll see how smart the SEC is.