With daily geopolitical, natural resource and sovereign liquidity crises suddenly becoming the norm, it is easy to get sidetracked from other very important issues, in which, at least until recently, moderate progress had been achieved. Primary among these is the seeming disconnect (at least when compared to other banks such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers) in the preferential treatment of Goldman Sachs. Now that Goldman is a household name, courtesy of a variety of litigation overtures, both in the civil and criminal arena, demonstrated by Goldman's popularity among the broader population, the firm has been kind enough to publicize its "Code of Business Conduct and Ethics" in an attempt to placate the concerned populace, and demonstrate that Goldman has a whopping 4 pages dedicated to promoting legal behavior amongst its nearly 30,000 employees. What confuses us is the placement at the very end of this document of the following section, Waivers of This Code, in which one reads: "From time to time, the firm may waive certain provisions of this Code." In other words, Goldman's activities comply fully with legality until such time that Goldman decides it is in the name of the greater good to "waive" this compliance. We are confused that in light of this glaring loophole, not one question has been asked of Mr. Blankfein as to what specific circumstances have necessitated the invocation of the "ethics waiver", by either executive and non-executive employees: something which none other than former Goldman CEO Hank Paulson recently used in order to pursue the full taxpayer-funded rescue of precisely this firm. Which is why, in the absence of others doing so, we have decided to ask this question directly of Goldman head of PR Lucas van Praag.
Dear Lucas, in going through the Goldman Sachs code of business conduct and ethics, we have noted Section III "Waivers of this Code" where it states:
From time to time, the firm may waive certain provisions of this Code. Any employee or director who believes that a waiver may be called for should discuss the matter with an Appropriate Ethics Contact. Waivers for executive officers (including Senior Financial Officers) or directors of the firm may be made only by the Board of Directors or a committee of the Board.
Could you please advise when the most recent invocation of an ethics waiver occurred for GS executive officers (and whether this was in fact approved by the BOD), and also whether there have been any ethics waivers for any non-executive employees of Goldman over the past five years either in connection with currently ongoing civil and criminal litigation involving Goldman's Structured Products Division, or any other Goldman group, including, but not limited to: Fixed Income Currency and Commodities, Sales and Trading, Quantitative Strategies, Quantitative Resource Group, Goldman Sachs Asset Management, Goldman Global Alpha, Correlation Trading, Investment Banking, and Primary Dealers, and the specific details thereto.
Your prompt response is much appreciated.
The Zero Hedge team.
We are confident that since Goldman has nothing to hide in this or any other matter, a prompt response is indeed forthcoming. If it is not, we will kindly ask those members of Congress and Senate who have not yet been fully corrupted, to ask this very question of the Goldman CEO at the next immediate opportunity.