Steve Dinneen
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GOLDMAN Sachs executives yesterday gave a robust defence of the bank’s behaviour during the financial meltdown.

Senators grilled the bank’s top players for more than nine hours as they desperately sought an admission of guilt that was never forthcoming.

During the ill-tempered affair Goldman executives, including boss Lloyd Blankfein and chief financial officer David Viniar, coolly batted away a series of allegations.

The committee claimed the culture at the bank was like a casino that had fixed the deck but Blankfein categorically denied Goldman had bet against its clients.

He also defended the decision to leak emails sent by the self-styled “fabulous” Fabrice Tourre to the press, which the committee said had made the trader a “whipping boy”.

The executives were forced to deny they purposefully misled clients over the sale of collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) which the bank then took a short position on.

Tourre was singled out for questioning over allegations he helped to sell CDOs he knew were destined to fail, while the bank cashed in on the losses.

However, no knockout blows were landed and the committee at times seemed to struggle to fully understand the complex issues being discussed. The hearing is the first of three opportunities senators have to question Goldman.