Goldman and SEC open talks over a settlement

GOLDMAN Sachs has commenced negotiations with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in order to try and reach an out-of-court settlement of the agency’s civil fraud action against the bank, it emerged over the weekend.

Lawyers for Goldman met last week with SEC officials to open discussions over a settlement, in a sign that the bank may be relaxing the aggressively defensive stance it has adopted since the suit was first filed last month.

The path to a final settlement will be fraught with difficulties for the two sides, as Goldman is expected to be unwilling admit any wrongdoing and the SEC is unlikely to want to waver far from its hard-line stance on Wall Street.

Goldman chief executive Lloyd Blankfein on Friday faced down angry shareholders at the bank’s annual meeting in Manhattan, pledging to oversee a “comprehensive review” of its practices to help address concerns.

A key priority for the bank will be to set up a new committee to police its ethical business standards – populated by impartial advisers to the bank and chaired by a non-executive director on the board, potentially ArcelorMittal steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, the UK’s richest man.