Will Goldman Try to Get Off on a Technicality?
John Carney seems to think so (via CNBC):
The SEC accused Goldman with violating Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and Section 17(a) of the Securities Act. Both are anti-fraud provisions. Like most anti-fraud statutes, Section 10(b) requires the government to prove a fraudulent intent. The first subsection of Section 17(a) also requires proof of fraudulent intent. But the second and third subsections of 17(a) do not require any proof of intent to defraud. This makes accusations based on the second and third subsections much easier to prove—and perhaps easier for Goldman to stomach.
In fact, subsection 17(a)(2) does not even employ any form of the word “fraud” or “deceit.” It makes the sale of a security or a derivative unlawful if a material omission renders the sale merely “misleading.”
The SEC’s claim against Goldman based on this subsection is its strongest and easiest to prove.
Goldman might accept a settlement if the civil charges requiring fraudulent intent or claiming a scheme that operated as fraud were dropped, a source said. That would leave open the charge of merely negligently “misleading” the investors in the Abacus deal. A source close to the matter indicated that this would be far more palatable to the company since it does not explicitly implicate Goldman in fraud.
But if it's outright fraud Goldman won't try to weasel out with a settlement? Suuuure, I buy that. Wouldn't want to taint their pristine, almost divine reputation now would we?