Goldman Sachs Said to Give AIG-Hedging List to Investigators
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Goldman Sachs Group Inc. told U.S. investigators which counterparties it used to hedge the risk that American International Group Inc. would fail, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.
The list was sought by panels reviewing the beneficiaries of New York-based AIG’s $182.3 billion government bailout, said the people, who declined to be identified because the information is private. Goldman Sachs, which received $12.9 billion after the 2008 rescue tied to contracts with the insurer, has said it didn’t need AIG to be rescued because it was hedged against the firm’s failure.
“We want to know the identity of those parties, partly just to know where American taxpayer dollars went, but partly to assess Goldman’s claim,” said Elizabeth Warren, chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, in a Senate hearing this week. “We cannot evaluate the credibility of their claim that they had nothing at stake one way or the other in the AIG bailout.”
Warren’s panel and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, both of which are reviewing the use of taxpayer funds in financial bailouts, received the data from New York-based Goldman Sachs, the people said. Goldman Sachs had rebuffed a May request from the Congressional Oversight Panel for the names of counterparties, according to a document provided to lawmakers.
Goldman Sachs has provided data to Warren’s panel and “to the extent that they have other questions, we are more than happy to provide them with the information,” Lucas van Praag, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, said yesterday in a statement. “We reached out to them” earlier this week, he said.
‘A Welcome Change’
Peter Jackson, a spokesman for the oversight panel, said that Goldman Sachs’s “apparent willingness to cooperate fully is a welcome change from their previous unwillingness to disclose details of the taxpayer assistance they received.”
AIG’s rescue was designed to prevent a wider financial collapse. Banks including Goldman Sachs, Societe Generale SA and Deutsche Bank AG bought $62.1 billion in insurance on mortgage- linked securities from AIG. To protect itself, Goldman Sachs bought credit-default swaps that would’ve paid out in the event of an AIG bankruptcy, Goldman Sachs Chief Financial Officer David Viniar has said.
When asked in March 2009 which firms sold Goldman Sachs the protection, Viniar said it was “really all of the large financial institutions” in and outside the U.S.
Goldman Sachs had $10 billion of exposure to AIG when the insurer was rescued in September 2008, offset by $7.5 billion of collateral and swaps, Viniar said. The hedges were one reason that Goldman wouldn’t accept anything less than full payment on the guarantees it purchased from AIG, he said.
The AIG rescue has been called a “backdoor bailout” of financial firms because banks were fully reimbursed on $62.1 billion in securities that had plunged in value.
Goldman Sachs provided the information to the Congressional Oversight Panel after the Senate Finance committee took up the cause this week, said a person with knowledge of the events. Lawmakers should use a subpoena to compel Goldman Sachs, if needed, Senator Charles Grassley said at a July 21 hearing.
“Why shouldn’t the public know who these ultimate beneficiaries of taxpayers’ support actually are?” Grassley said.
‘Working With Goldman’
The Iowa Republican’s office is “working with Goldman Sachs and the Congressional Oversight Panel to resolve the issue,” said Jill Kozeny, a spokeswoman Grassley, in an e-mail statement.
Congress created the oversight panel in 2008 to oversee Treasury Department activities in stabilizing the economy and the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Goldman Sachs agreed last week to pay $550 million to settle U.S. regulatory claims it misled investors in collateralized debt obligations linked to subprime mortgages.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s internal watchdog said this week he will expand his probe into whether politics drove the agency lawsuit against the bank to include the timing behind the settlement. The SEC announced the settlement two hours after the Senate approved legislation overhauling financial regulation. The expansion of the probe by SEC Inspector GeneralH. David Kotz followed a request by U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican.
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