At issue was an investor lawsuit filed in 2011 alleging that the US firm artificially inflated its share price prior to, during and after the financial dramas of 2007-08.
The US Supreme Court yesterday rejected a plea from Goldman Sachs to lift requirements for shareholder lawsuits alleging fraud. However, it returned a class-action lawsuit against the company to a lower court for further proceedings, media reports said.
At issue was an investor lawsuit filed in 2011 alleging that the US firm artificially inflated its share price before, during and after the 2007-08 financial crisis. The suit said the firm falsely claimed that it was complying with ethical rules when in it had conflicts of interest in its packaging and selling of mortgage-backed securities.
One of the plaintiffs in the case was the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, which alleged that Goldman Sachs was fraudulent with the effect of artificially maintaining Goldman’s stock price.
Responding to the court’s action this week, the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System said: “We applaud the US Supreme Court for upholding investor rights in its decision in the Goldman Sachs Group vs Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, et al. case, rejecting Goldman’s cynical attempt to evade accountability by shifting the burden of proof onto investors.” “By upholding existing law, with the burden of persuasion firmly on the defendants, the Court’s decision upholds the rights of investors to seek accountability in the future. The consequences of giving Goldman (and other companies) an explicit green light for misconduct would have been devastating for investor confidence in the markets. Should Goldman choose to characterize this as a ‘win,’ it will say a great deal about how the company sees foot-dragging and justice deferred for investors as good things.”
“While the case was remanded back to the Second Circuit, nothing in the decision suggests that the Second Circuit decision to certify the class was made in error. Indeed, we agree with Justice Sotomayor that it was not. We are hopeful that the case will finally be able to proceed once the Second Circuit reviews all of the evidence pursuant to the Court’s decision, giving Goldman’s investors long overdue justice,” the group added.
The US bank is quoted (Wall Street Journal, June 21) as saying: “Our reputation is one of our most important assets. We have extensive procedures and controls that are designed to identify and address conflicts of interest.”