Time to dust off the old juris doctor sheepskin, and wonder aloud about the legal advice that Goldman Sachs has gotten over the past few years. It’s a question worth asking as I review the firm’s recent history of unforced errors in the courtroom. The most recent case in point: the collapsing prosecution of former Goldman computer coder Sergey Aleynikov.
There’s a pattern here, and we can discern its outlines by starting with the “Fabulous Fab” Tourre-Abacus case. This was a simple fraud case involving Securities and Exchange Commission rule 10B-5 governing “manipulative and deceptive practices.” Any rookie lawyer could have looked at the facts concerning the sale of a monumentally complex security and recommended a quick settlement involving a modest fine. Instead, Goldman received what I can only surmise was some fairly awful advice, leading it to fight the allegations tooth and nail. I don’t know if it was a new legal team or simple exhaustion that led to an about-face, but Goldman settled in 2010 for a whopping $550 million fine and a lot of embarrassment.
The good news for Goldman is the Aleynikov case seems to be one of the final remnants of that misguided legal regime. The bad news is some more embarrassment from that era may well follow.
A quick review of the Aleynikov case:
Continues here: Why Goldman Sachs Keeps Losing in Court