September 27, 2012
Goldman Sachs Settles SEC "Pay-to-Play" Charges for "In-Kind" Non-Cash Contributions
The SEC charged Goldman, Sachs & Co. and one of its former investment bankers with “pay-to-play” violations involving undisclosed campaign contributions to then-Massachusetts state treasurer Timothy P. Cahill while he was a candidate for governor. This marks the first SEC enforcement action for pay-to-play violations involving “in-kind” non-cash contributions to a political campaign.
According to the SEC’s order against Goldman Sachs, Neil M.M. Morrison was a vice president in the firm’s Boston office and solicited underwriting business from the Massachusetts treasurer’s office beginning in July 2008. Morrison also was substantially engaged in working on Cahill’s political campaigns from November 2008 to October 2010. Morrison at times conducted campaign activities from the Goldman Sachs office during work hours and using the firm’s phones and e-mail. Morrison’s use of Goldman Sachs work time and resources for campaign activities constituted valuable in-kind campaign contributions to Cahill that were attributable to Goldman Sachs and disqualified the firm from engaging in municipal underwriting business with certain Massachusetts municipal issuers for two years after the contributions. Nevertheless, Goldman Sachs subsequently participated in 30 prohibited underwritings with Massachusetts issuers and earned more than $7.5 million in underwriting fees.
While the SEC’s case against Morrison continues, Goldman Sachs agreed to settle the charges by paying $7,558,942 in disgorgement, $670,033 in prejudgment interest, and a $3.75 million penalty.
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