Subprime securities litigation could run Goldman's legal tab up by $3.4 billion
Litigation and regulatory actions tied to Goldman Sach's selling of mortgage-backed securities could cost the investment bank an additional $3.4 billion in legal expenses, Goldman's said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing this week. The $3.4 billion is a "worst-case scenario" projection and does not reflect the true risk Goldman faces, but rather what could happen if the firm lands on the losing end of all litigation, a spokesman for the firm said. The company's projection of greater-than-budgeted for legal expenses puts it in company with Bank of America, Wells Fargo & Co. and JPMorgan & Co., all of which are facing billions in extra legal expenses in 2010 to fight consumer and investor litigation, as well as regulatory actions. "The firm is involved in a number of judicial, regulatory and arbitration proceedings concerning matters arising in connection with the conduct of the firm’s businesses," Goldman said in its filing. "Many of these proceedings are at preliminary stages, and many of these cases seek an indeterminate amount of damages." Goldman landed in the firing line of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission when the group investigated the causes of the 2008 financial meltdown. The commission weighed heavily into Goldman Sachs for allegedly pushing subprime mortgage-backed securities while simultaneously shorting the same instruments. Many of the legal filings pending against Goldman Sachs were filed by purchasers of subprime mortgage securities who are either demanding damages or asking Goldman's to repurchase the securities they sold. Goldman is also fighting multimillion-dollar lawsuits that claim a similar strategy was employed by the investment bank's marketing of a collateralized default obligation platform, known as ABACUS. Write to Kerri Panchuk.