Despite the civil fraud charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the apparent damage to his bank's reputation, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein is not biting his tongue.
Blankfein said the SEC's case against his bank would "hurt America," according to the Financial Times, which got wind of a recent round of telephone calls Blankfein has reportedly been making to clients. (Check out the full article here.)
Blankfein's rhetoric has mostly been combative, and largely reflects his bank's staunch opposition to rebut the SEC's charges in "law and fact." To his credit, in recently testimony in front of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Blankfein said that he felt sorry that, in its role as a market-maker, the bank may have engaged in "improper" conduct, but then walked that statement back in a press release.
Commission chairman Phil Angelides wasn't satisfied with Blankfein's response, and called his failure to admit any culpability in selling toxic mortgage products "troublesome."
In a voice mail to Goldman Sachs employees that was obtained by Politico, Blankfein seemed to place a good deal of the blame on Fabrice Tourre, a bank employee at the center of a particularly infamous Abacus deal. Here's Politico:
"The extensive media coverage on the SEC's complaint is certainly uncomfortable, but given the anger directed at financial services, not completely surprising. Still, it is important to put the SEC's action in context. The core of the SEC's case is the allegation that one employee misled two professional investors by failing to disclose the role of another market participant in a transaction. Importantly, we had assumed risk in the deal and we lost money, just like the other two long investors. I will repeat what you have heard me say many times in the past: Goldman Sachs has never condoned and would never condone inappropriate activity by any of our people."
Of course, in November, as controversy swirled over the bank's profits and huge pay packages, Blankfein was quoted as saying Goldman was doing "God's work." That work now, apparently, includes a very public war of rhetoric.