About Time

Goldman Sachs Charged with Fraud

Just in time for the financial-reform debate: The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil suit against Goldman Sachs on Friday, charging the bank and one of its vice presidents with securities fraud. The lawsuit focuses on a specific financial instrument that Goldman created called the Abacus 2007-AC1 after hedge-fund manager John Paulson—who made $3.7 billion in 2007 by correctly predicting that the housing bubble would burst—approached them wanting to make a bet against mortgage bonds. Goldman allowed Paulson to select the bonds he wanted to bet against, then it packaged those bonds in the Abacus 2007-AC1 and sold them to investors like pension funds. Those investors eventually lost billions of dollars on the bond when the bubble burst while Paulson raked in a profit. The Times writes, “[T]he deck was stacked against the Abacus investors, the complaint contends, because the investment was filled with bonds chosen by Mr. Paulson as likely to default.” The suit is the first time regulators have targeted a Wall Street deal that allowed investors to make money off the financial crisis.