According to an announcement on April 12, 2012, from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Goldman Sachs & Co. has been fined $22 million for “failing to supervise equity research analyst communications with traders and clients and for failing to adequately monitor trading in advance of published research changes to detect and prevent possible information breaches by its research analysts.” A related settlement with Goldman was announced by the Securities and Exchange Commission on the same day. Securities fraud attorneys say Goldman will pay $11 million each to the SEC and FINRA.
Goldman established “trading huddles” as a business process in 2006, according to FINRA’s statement. These “trading huddles” were designed to allow weekly meetings for research analysts, in which they would share trading ideas with traders for the firm. These traders worked with clients and, occasionally, equity salespersons. In addition, analysts apparently discussed specific securities while they were considering changing the conviction list status or published research rating of the security. Clients had access to the “trading huddle” information and were not restricted from direct participation through calls placed by analysts to high priority clients of the firm.
Unsurprising to investment fraud lawyers, a significant risk was created by trading huddles: material non-public information could be disclosed by analysts. Such information includes conviction list status and rating changes. Despite this risk, Goldman failed to have adequate controls to monitor communications before and after the trading huddles. Furthermore, an adequate monitoring system was not in place to detect possible trading in advance of conviction list and research rating changes in proprietary or employee training, institutional customer or client-facilitation and market-making accounts. Had these practices been allowed to continue, insider trading could have resulted, according to securities fraud attorneys.
While Goldman did not admit or deny the charges, it consented to the findings of FINRA and the SEC. Furthermore, the firm admitted to certain facts related to a previous settlement with the State of Massachusetts.
If you believe you have been the victim of fraud and would like to discuss your options, contact a securities fraud attorney at The Law Office of Christopher J. Gray at (866) 966-9598 for a no-cost, confidential consultation.