The Game Is Rigged

The biggest kahuna on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, took the stand in New York City on Wednesday to testify in federal prosecutors’ insider trading case against Raj Rajaratnam, the founder of Galleon hedge funds who the feds allege made more than $50 million through illegal trades.

Raj had sources up and down the Street, allegedly even at the highest levels imaginable in the ultra-exclusive world of investing: the boardroom of Goldman Sachs, the world’s mightiest investment bank. The spectacle of the mighty Blankfein testifying about the hedge fund kingpin Rajaratnam underscores the simple truth about Wall Street: individual investors should understand the stock market for what it is—a rigged game in which they don’t stand a chance.

Blankfein’s testimony centered on the alleged connection between Raj and Rajat Gupta, a former member of the Goldman Board of Directors. If those allegations are true, they reveal a damning reality not just for the parties involved but for everyone on the Street.

The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Gupta passed inside information about Goldman to Raj. The hot tips included advance word of the bank’s earnings as well as the incredibly important information that Warren Buffett, the world’s most famous investor, was just about to invest $5 billion in the firm to shore it up during the darkest days of the financial meltdown in 2008.

Minutes after allegedly receiving that tip, practically straight from the boardroom, Raj loaded up on Goldman stock.

Blankfein is no stranger to the hot seat as a result of Goldman’s business practices. Last year, the SEC alleged that Goldman materially misstated and omitted facts in disclosure documents for a synthetic CDO it created called Abacus 2007-AC1. A few months later, it neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing when it paid the SEC $500 million to settle the matter.

Tapes of discussions between Raj and Gupta were played at the hearing, and when Mr. Blankfein was asked whether Gupta had violated his agreement with Goldman Sachs as a board member by revealing confidences, Mr. Blankfein said: “My sense of it, yes.”

If this is the way Wall Street works, investors may be better off taking their money to a casino. There they could at least see a show and get some free drinks and sandwiches.

About Jacob H. Zamansky 57 Articles

Jacob (”Jake”) H. Zamansky is one of the country’s foremost authorities on securities arbitration law, the legal recourse for investors claiming broker wrongdoing, or for brokers claiming wrongful termination or other misconduct by their employer. Zamansky & Associates, the New York-based law firm he founded, represents both individuals and institutions in complex securities, hedge fund, and employment arbitrations.

Mr. Zamansky was at the forefront of recent efforts to “clean up” Wall Street. In 2001, he successfully sued former Merrill Lynch analyst Henry Blodget on behalf of a New York pediatrician misled by Blodget’s stock research. The case’s successful resolution was the catalyst for New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer to investigate the conflicts of interest on Wall Street and resulted in the well-reported $1.4 billion Global Settlement, which included many of the biggest names on Wall Street.

More recently, Mr. Zamansky is one of the leading litigators and opinion leaders of the subprime mortgage crisis and the related hedge fund collapses, representing both investors and mortgage borrowers who were defrauded by Wall Street firms and mortgage lenders. Among Mr. Zamansky’s early actions is filing the first arbitration case on behalf of institutional and high net worth investors against Bear Stearns Asset Management with regard to the two hedge funds which collapsed as a result of exposure to subprime mortgage backed securities. He also has filed claims on behalf of individual investors victimized by brokers that steered their portfolios into unsuitable subprime stocks and mortgage borrowers who were fraudulently coerced into inappropriate mortgage and investment transactions.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Zamansky worked for more than 30 years as a litigator, including positions at Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom LLP. His tenure also included serving as a federal prosecutor with the Federal Trade Commission.

A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Zamansky has been a frequent expert commentator on CNBC, CNN, and FOX News and has published opinion pieces in The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and USA Today. He is regularly quoted and his cases have been chronicled in major financial and news publications including The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, BusinessWeek, Fortune and Forbes. He is a frequent lecturer for industry and legal groups around the country. He also writes a blog that can be viewed here.

Visit: Zamansky & Associates

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