Tags: Goldman Sachs Reporting Practices

Goldman Vows to Boost Disclosure, Avoid Conflicts

Tuesday, 11 Jan 2011 10:47 AM

In response to widespread criticism over its practices, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Tuesday released an internal report that makes recommendations on how it can be more transparent about its business practices.

Among the most significant of 39 changes suggested in the report, the New York investment bank said it will start disclosing how much revenue its trading desk generates. Known as proprietary trading in the financial industry, investment banks such as Goldman have made huge profits from making trading bets with their own money.

A new rule contained in the financial regulatory bill that passed last summer restricts such trading. The rule is named for presidential adviser Paul Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve. Volcker says this kind of trading is too risky for banks and also for the financial markets.

Goldman's 63-page report is the result of an eight-month review of the firm's practices. It comes after Goldman paid $550 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission that accused Goldman of creating and selling an investment that was designed to fail.

In a video released along with the report, CEO Lloyd Blankfein admitted that in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Goldman has been subject to "considerable scrutiny" and that the review was an "opportunity to engage in thorough self-assessment and consider how we can and should improve."

The firm set up a committee in May to review all its major businesses, in particular its relationship with clients and conflicts of interest. Goldman's reputation took a beating during Congressional hearings and questions that were raised after the SEC's lawsuit. The SEC accused Goldman of selling an investment created by hedge fund manager John Paulson that contained bad securities. Goldman and Paulson made money from the investment, while many of Goldman's clients who invested in the deal lost more than $1 billion.

Recognizing its clients' distrust after the SEC lawsuit, Goldman said it will work toward reducing the firm's exposure to potential conflicts of interest and inform clients of the firm's role in any transaction.

It will start reporting its revenue structure starting with its fourth-quarter results, which are due on Jan. 19.

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