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Manhattan DA Subpoenas Goldman Sachs Over Mortgage Bonds

Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan District Attorney, has issued a subpoena to Goldman Sachs, specifically based on the report written by Carl Levin for the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which showed that Goldman duped its clients by touting and selling them bond products that they ended up betting against. This big short of the mortgage market made them billions of dollars at the expense of their own clients, and they failed to disclose information to investors that would have shown them shorting the deals.

Senator Carl Levin, the Democrat of Michigan, who headed up the Congressional inquiry, had sent his findings to the Justice Department to figure out whether executives broke the law. The agency said it is reviewing the report.

The subpoena come two weeks after lawyers for Goldman met with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for an “exploratory” meeting about the Senate report, the people said.

“We don’t comment on specific regulatory or legal issues, but subpoenas are a normal part of the information request process and, of course, when we receive them we cooperate fully,” said a Goldman spokesperson.

The Levin report had an additional charge that Goldman executives lied to Congress about this arrangement. The Justice Department would have jurisdiction over that charge, and while subpoenas were expected to be issued by DoJ two weeks ago, so far they have not been.

In addition to DoJ, the SEC (which received a referral of the Levin report with a request for investigation) and the DA of Manhattan, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has initiated an investigation into Goldman and other banks about the financial crisis, also asking for documents via subpoena. Goldman’s legal department has undoubtedly had to expand in the wake of all these investigations and document requests.

Goldman Sachs shares dropped 2% today, and since the release of the Levin report in April, they’re down 17%. Overall, since January, they’ve dipped from $170 to $136 a share, a drop of 20%.

I really feel for them.

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David Dayen

David Dayen