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FCIC: Goldman's Got Nearly $3B from AIG After Government Bailout

Source: CNN

Posted on 28 Jan 2011

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According to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Goldman Sachs received nearly $3 billion from AIG for "proprietary" transactions after the insurance company had been bailed out by the government.

The FCIC said Goldman submitted documents, showing it received $3.4 billion in 2008 from AIG related to credit default swaps, a type of insurance policy, on bundles of mortgage-backed securities. "Of that $3.4 billion, $1.9 billion was received after, and thus made possible by, the federal bailout of AIG," the commission writes in its final report on the causes of the crisis.

The report says $2.9 billion of the $3.4 billion total -- including some of the money made possible by the bailout -- was for "proprietary trades," which suggests the money went directly to Goldman, rather than to a client.

The payments were separate from the $14 billion Goldman received for credit default swaps from Maiden Lane, the limited liability company set up by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to resolve CDSs from AIG, according to the FCIC.

"Thus, unlike the $14 billion received from AIG on trades in which Goldman owed money to its own counterparties, this $2.9 billion was retained by Goldman," the report says.

AIG was one of the largest purveyors of credit default swaps, or CDSs, during the financial crisis. At one point, it had written $79 billion worth of CDSs on pools of mortgage-backed securities, or credit default obligations, according to the FCIC. Goldman (GS, Fortune 500), once one of the most respected firms on Wall Street, paid $550 million to settle charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission last year that it misled investors in the sale of a credit default obligation.

However, a source familiar with the trades said the report misuses the term "proprietary." The source said Goldman had "equivalent hedges" that would have offset any losses, and that it was acting as a "market maker" for AIG and other undisclosed market participants.

"The notion that Goldman received this great windfall from these transactions is inaccurate," the source claimed.