The government has accused Goldman Sachs & Co. of defrauding investors by failing to disclose conflicts of interest in mortgage investments it sold as the housing market was faltering.
The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Friday civil fraud charges against the Wall Street powerhouse and one of its vice presidents. The agency alleges Goldman failed to disclose that one of its clients helped create — and then bet against — subprime mortgage securities that Goldman sold to investors.
Investors in the mortgage securities are alleged to have lost more than $1 billion, the SEC noted. The agency is seeking to recoup profits reaped on the deal.
The Goldman client implicated in the fraud is one of the world’s largest hedge funds, Paulson & Co., which paid Goldman roughly $15 million for structuring the deals in 2007.
Goldman Sachs shares fell more than 12 percent after the SEC announcement, which also caused shares of other financial companies to sink. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 120 points in midday trading.
The civil lawsuit filed by the SEC in federal court in Manhattan was the government’s most significant legal action related to the mortgage meltdown that ignited the financial crisis and helped plunge the country into recession. The SEC’s enforcement chief said the agency is investigating a wide range of practices related to the crisis.