FSA set to hit Goldman with a £20m fine

WALL Street titan Goldman Sachs has been fined £20m by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for failing to disclose it was under a fraud investigation by its US counterpart.

The fine, expected to be announced this morning, concludes a five-month long probe by the City watchdog launched after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Goldman with civil fraud for allegedy misleading investors about its mortgage-backed security known as Abacus.

The FSA is understood to have been particularly annoyed because the Goldman employee at the centre of the charges, Fabrice Tourre, who denies wrongdoing, had been transferred to a job in London from the US while the probe was ongoing, putting him under the auspices of the UK regulator.

The FSA’s move, which comes just two months after Goldman paid $500m to settle the SEC charges, is a fresh blow to the bank, which has seen its share price plummet by almost a fifth since the suit was initially announced. While the size of the fine is relatively insignificant, it will reignite controversy over the bank’s actions during the financial crisis.

The FSA announced its investigation in April following pressure from then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who expressed shock at what he called Goldman’s “moral bankruptcy” for planning multibillion-dollar bonuses for its staff.

The fine from the FSA is the latest in a string of large levies imposed by the City regulator. The biggest was £33m levied against JP Morgan last year after the bank failed to separate client money from its own. Last month, the London branch of Societe Generale was fined £1.57m for failing to provide accurate transaction reports. Goldman and the FSA declined to comment last night.