Goldman Weasels Its Way Into 2013: Street Whispers
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Goldman Sachs(GS) might be preparing to turn over a new leaf in 2013, though if the way it ended 2012 is any indication, you shouldn't count on it.
As Bloomberg News reported Wednesday, Goldman finished the year with a flurry of regulatory filings revealing that 10 top executives, including CEO and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein and President and COO Gary Cohn would be paid a total of $65 million in restricted stock award 2012--ahead of schedule--enabling them to avoid higher tax rates in 2013. Goldman spokesman Michael DuVally declined to comment.
And remember the eleventh hour deal struck by Congress to avoid the fiscal cliff? Goldman will indirectly get a piece of that as well. Section 328 of the bill extends tax-exempt financing for the "New York Liberty Zone," which includes the area around Goldman' shiny new headquarters at 200 West St. Goldman already got $1.5 billion in "Liberty Bonds" to help pay for the construction of its headquarters, according to this Bloomberg News investigation, and now it can be sure developers will have every incentive to build more fancy high rises to house Goldman's workaholics as close to the office as possible. Not that they needed such incentives.
Meanwhile, Congress couldn't find the time to approve a $60.4 billion package to help genuinely distressed coastal neighborhoods in New York and New Jersey that have been wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.
Of the original Liberty bond deal, Goldman spokesman DuVally said "we make no apologies for our commitment to Lower Manhattan and the role we played in its revitalization."
These latest reminders of Goldman's greed shouldn't surprise us. The company demonstrated repeatedly during the crisis that it is particularly deft when it comes to finding favors from government. As a creditor of AIG(AIG) , it got billions of dollars from the government bailout of the giant insurer. It also got speedy approval to become a bank holding company from the Federal Reserve, helped by then-New York Federal Reserve Chairman Stephen Friedman, who at the time also sat on Goldman's board and was eagerly buying up beaten-down shares of Goldman stock.
So, Lloyd Blankfein, here's to a healthy and prosperous 2013--for you, your well-connected friends, and, most of all, for your lawyers.
Actually scratch those last two: if your lawyers or well-connected friends get sick or cease to prosper, you can always buy some new ones.
-- Written by Dan Freed in New York.