Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
Remember former NY Fed Chairman Stephen Friedman? He may have stepped down after getting busted for buying Goldman Sachs shares when he both sat on their board and their audit committee, not to mention the fact that he was serving as chairman of the NY Fed at the time, but he isn’t out of the frying pan just yet. See the deal was supposed to be kosher because of the waiver filed in September of 2008 that somehow made everything OK but that’d be like letting Tim Geither sign a waiver to cash in our gold reserves for dollars through Cash4Gold. You can’t make illegal activities legal, no matter how many papers you push in an attempt to do so.
Greg Palm, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. general counsel, took a call in his 37th-floor office at One New York Plaza on Dec. 16, 2008. It was his old boss, Stephen Friedman, a former Goldman chairman who was then head of the audit committee of its board of directors. Goldman’s stock was down 65 percent from its 52-week high during an accelerating global financial breakdown.
Friedman, who had become chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that year, told Palm he wanted to buy, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its August issue.
Palm says he couldn’t think of a reason why Friedman shouldn’t: Goldman had made the necessary disclosures in that day’s filings, Palm says.
“We’d just reported earnings,” says Palm, whose job includes approving trades by directors. “There was no material information that wasn’t public from Goldman’s standpoint.”
Friedman, 72, who is still a Goldman director, bought 37,300 shares at an average of $80.78 each on Dec. 17. Five weeks later, he picked up 15,300 more at an average of $66.61. By yesterday, the stock had doubled to $133.76, giving Friedman a paper profit of $3 million.
Now, the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is investigating Friedman’s stock purchases. It wants to know why he was permitted to buy stock in a bank he was regulating as chairman of the New York Fed.
One might wonder why Friedman felt compelled to gobble up GS shares when it was deeply immersed in its darkest days but any curiosity could be easily satisfied by figuring out just how much Friedman made on the deal.
Blaring NY Fed/Goldman Sachs conflict aside, do stock purchases have an impact on how one performs one’s duties on a firm’s audit committee?
Is the problem that Friedman bought the shares or is it that he bought SO MANY before the waiver had even been in place? Or is the problem that there is even a waiver in the first place?
What a tangled web we weave…