Question of the Week: Will the Feds File Criminal Charges Against Goldman?

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Today, Goldman Sachs received a subpoena from the Manhattan District Attorney, which is investigating the behemoth bank’s role in the financial crisis.

Goldman has not been accused of any wrongdoing. A subpoena is merely a request for info, Dealbook says.

Today’s subpoena stems from a Senate subcommittee report released in April. The report accuses Goldman of making a huge bet against the housing market, misleading investors, mismanaging conflicts of interests and putting its interest ahead of its clients, according to the Wall Street Journal.

There’s a lot of speculation about whether Goldman may face a criminal charge. Last July, it agreed to pay $500 million to settle a civil fraud suit by the SEC, which alleged that Goldman misled clients about a mortgage-linked investment. Brad Hintz, an analyst at Sanford C. Berstein & Co., doesn’t think Goldman will face criminal prosecution, because such a move could threaten the U.S. financial system, Bloomberg reports. Basically, the thinking goes, the DOJ will avoid putting Goldman in jeopardy because it’s “too big to fail.”

Seriously? Hintz doesn’t think there is an “Arthur Andersen” risk for Goldman? AA, you’ll recall, was the huge accounting firm that was convicted of obstruction of justice for shredding documents related to the Enron scandal in 2002. The Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2005, but that was too late for AA. The accounting firm was out of business.

Let’s not forget that there’s a lot of lingering hate for Goldman. It became one of the most scorned firms during the financial downturn. Goldman conspiracy theories were plentiful during the meltdown. Among the allegations: it had a role in Bear Stearns’ collapse, it has had undue influence on the Fed, and it benefited from the financial crisis (GS got $13 billion in AIG CDOs repaid — on top of the $10 billion in TARP funds it received).

The conspiracy theorists also find it suspicious that Goldman shares, which plunged to $47 a share during the crisis, are now trading at $134.48.

So, we wonder, do you think the feds will file criminal charges against Goldman?

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