Goldman Gets SEC Pat On Back For Asking Simple Question: ‘Who Are These F**kers?’

Five years ago, an executive at Goldman Sachs’ London operation was feeling in a bit of a rut. Unable to get noticed. Spinning his wheels. Then, fortuitously, he learned that his native Ghana was on the lookout for a company to build and operate a power plant there, which power plant one of his clients would very much like to build and operate.

Of course, if said executive were able to win such deals honestly, well, he probably wouldn’t have been so desperate to win this one. And he was desperate: Desperate enough to not only allegedly facilitate some $4.5 million in bribes to Ghanaian officials through a Ghanaian intermediary, but also to allegedly pay $66,000 in bribes out of his own pocket.

Unfortunately for young Asante Berko, however, this was all happening at about the same time that the doings of another underappreciated Goldman banker were beginning to unravel, which meant that the Goldman compliance department’s previously undistinguished efforts on these fronts had suddenly been beefed up enough to ask the question, “Why is there an intermediary here and what is it doing?”

The SEC said in a press release that Mr. Berko tried to hide the scheme from the bank, whose compliance officers questioned how the deal was put together. Goldman, which wasn’t named in the SEC’s lawsuit, terminated its involvement with the project after the energy company refused to explain the intermediary firm’s role, the SEC’s legal complaint says.

But it gets so much worse.

The energy company paid Mr. Berko $2 million for successfully coordinating the effort, the SEC alleges. The payments violated Mr. Berko’s employment agreement with the bank, the SEC’s lawsuit says.

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