The headline figure of a $5B settlement that Goldman will have to pay after admitting to the toxic-asset fraud that led to the global economic collapse is just window-dressing: in the fine print are exemptions and giveaways that could cut that number in half.
The rebate comes in incentives and tax credits that lop as much as 70% off of some of the payments in the settlement.
Also, no one is going to jail.
"They appear to have grossly inflated the settlement amount for P.R. purposes to mislead the public, while in the fine print, enabling Goldman Sachs to pay 50 to 75 percent less," said Dennis Kelleher, the founder of the advocacy organization Better Markets, referring to the government announcement. "The problem all along, with all of these settlements — and this one highlights it even more — is that they are carefully crafted more to conceal than reveal to the American public what really happened here — and what the so-called penalty is."
A Justice Department official with direct knowledge of the negotiations, who spoke on the condition that his name not be disclosed, said that the banks were given extra credit for activities that the government wanted to encourage, like funding development of low-income housing or providing relief to areas hit by natural disasters. But he also said that the final terms were a result of a back and forth between the banks and government officials.
In Settlement's Fine Print, Goldman May Save $1 Billion
[Nathaniel Popper/New York Times]
(via Naked Capitalism)
(Image: Vampyroteuthis1, Ewald Rübsamen)