Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executives on Tuesday endured more than 10 hours of congressional grilling in one of the most public, and most hostile, political lashings in the firm’s 141-year history. By day’s end, the investment bank’s market value had risen by $549 million.
Sen. Carl Levin and members of his Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said evidence they presented made the case for Congress to pass legislation tightening financial regulation. Goldman Sachs, the world’s most profitable securities firm, was alone among 79 stocks of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Financial Index in posting a gain Tuesday.
“Both sides got what they wanted,” said Robert Hillman, a securities law professor at the University of California, Davis. “The Senate probably did what it felt it had to do, which was bring Goldman people up and embarrass them. For Goldman, the goal was to demonstrate that they had not engaged in fraud or illegal conduct. They probably succeeded in that.”
The senators, capping a probe of Goldman Sachs that has lasted more than a year, peppered Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and six current and former executives with questions about their duty to clients and the ethics of betting against the housing market as the bank sold mortgage-linked securities to customers. The hearing came 12 days after the Securities and Exchange Commission sued the New York-based firm for fraud, saying the bank misled investors in a mortgage-linked investment known as Abacus, claims the company denies.