Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. aren't doing “God's work” when it comes to derivatives, according to investor groups of nuns and priests.
Shareholders will vote starting this month on proposals sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth and 14 other religious organizations, asking Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. to give more information on the collateral used in their derivatives trading.
It's the first time the four banks, among the largest U.S. swaps dealers, will put to a nonbinding vote a call to explain how collateral of derivatives customers is used and to keep it from other accounts. Congress is considering bills that would require more derivatives deals be processed through clearinghouses, privately owned third parties that guarantee transactions and keep track of collateral and margin.
“The use of these instruments, if they're not disclosed by the dealers and the information made available, by their very nature can contribute to systemic risk,” said Father Seamus Finn, a director with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Washington, D.C., one of the co-sponsors of the resolutions.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, in February and March decisions, backed the religious groups' bid to put the proposal up for a vote by shareholders of JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup. New York-based Goldman Sachs, the most profitable firm in Wall Street history, agreed separately to add the resolution to its proxy statement.
Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein's remark in November that he's a banker doing “God's work” was an “inscrutable comment,” Mr. Finn said. “He was part of a group of very senior people from the banking sector who appeared to have been advised by their PR people to acknowledge their mistakes but more pointedly assert the uprightness of their intentions.”