Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs fined £17.5m by FSA

Financial professional stands in the Goldman Sachs booth at the New York Stock Exchange
Image caption Goldman Sachs settled fraud charges in the US by paying $550m

Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs has been fined £17.5m ($27m) by the UK's City regulator, the Financial Services Authority.

The fine is for failing to tell the FSA it was under investigation for fraud by the US financial watchdog this summer.

In July, Goldman settled the fraud charge with the Securities and Exchange Commission by paying $550m (£356m).

BBC business editor Robert Peston said it was one of the heaviest fines ever imposed by the FSA.

Margaret Cole, FSA managing director of enforcement and financial crime, said: "GSI [Goldman Sachs International] did not set out to hide anything, but its defective systems and controls meant that the level and quality of its communications with the FSA fell far below what we expect of an authorised firm."

Goldman agreed to pay the US fine to settle civil fraud charges of misleading investors.

The charges concerned the bank's marketing of complex mortgage investments, just as the US housing market faltered.

The FSA said Goldman also did not tell them that Fabrice Tourre, the trader who helped to create these mortgage derivatives, was under investigation.

This, it said, was particularly relevant as Mr Tourre moved from the US to London, and therefore came under the auspices of the UK regulator.

Goldman has admitted that it made a mistake, our correspondent added.

Heavy losses

In April, the SEC charged Goldman with failing to disclose "vital information" that one of its clients, Paulson & Co, helped to choose which securities were packaged into a mortgage portfolio that was then sold to investors in 2007.

It claimed Goldman did not disclose that Paulson, one of the world's largest hedge funds, had bet that the value of the securities would fall.

The SEC alleged that investors in the mortgage securities, packaged into a vehicle called Abacus, lost more than $1bn in the US housing market collapse.

In paying the SEC fine, Goldman did not admit legal wrongdoing but acknowledged that its marketing material for Abacus contained "incomplete information".

Many commentators felt at the time that the bank had got off lightly.

The bank made a profit of $3.5bn in the first three months of this year, but saw its profits slump to $613m between April and June.

This was due to a drop in trading revenues, the $550m fine and a $600m hit from the bonus tax in the UK.

Despite the fall in profits and the fraud charges, Goldman Sachs is still considered by many to be world's pre-eminent investment bank.

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