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Goldman: We've had the verdict; now for the trial

Mark Mardell | 15:03 UK time, Tuesday, 27 April 2010

We may have had the verdict, but that won't stop the trial being a good show.

The man in charge of the Senate's investigation into Goldman Sachs has already announced that the company is guilty. Democratic Senator Carl Levin says that the "evidence shows that Goldman repeatedly put its own interest and profits ahead of the interest of its clients," adding that the firm had deceived its clients and was now deceiving the country by protesting its innocence.

22 April 2010: Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and company president Gary CohnI suspect the trick for Goldman chief executive Lloyd Blankfein will be to keep it ever-so humble. Wealth and power are not exactly divorced in the States; even here, though, politicians revel in the chance to scrutinise those who not only have more money than themselves, but more power - and power not hedged with rules and elections.

So Mr Blankfein is wise to sound a conciliatory note in his opening statement [10.62Kb PDF]. While fiercely defending his firm against the charges of fraud, he will agree that there should be more control of the derivatives market and say that he understands how the case looks to the people on Main Street:

"To them, it is confirmation of how out of control they believe Wall Street has become, no matter how sophisticated the parties or what disclosures were made. We have to do a better job of striking the balance between what an informed client believes is important to his or her investing goals and what the public believes is overly complex and risky."

Today, the "masters of the universe" would be wise to curb their arrogance and not vent their frustration by making wisecracks. More as we get it.

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