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In the fall of 2011, Carmen Segarra landed a job as a bank examiner at the New York Fed.
Upon being hired, Ms. Segarra was assigned to examine Goldman Sachs. In particular, she was tasked with determining whether the bank’s conflict-of-interest program was in compliance with current Federal Reserve guidelines. (The Fed’s guidelines require the bank to ensure its relationship with one client does not conflict with another client.) Pretty straight forward stuff.
Ms. Segarra was soon staring into the belly of the beast and was astonished by her findings.
In fact, she claims the lack of Federal Reserve oversight was so egregious that she secretly recorded incriminating conversations deep inside the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
But what happened next is now at the center of an epic legal battle that pits Ms. Segarra against some of the most powerful forces on Wall Street.
Upon concluding the investigation, Ms. Segarra’s findings were considered at a meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
According to NYTimes/DealBook:
“At a March 2012 meeting, a group of examiners at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York agreed that Goldman Sachs had inadequate procedures to guard against conflicts of interest — guidelines aimed at stopping firms from putting their pursuit of profit ahead of their clients’ best interests.
The examiners voted to downgrade a confidential rating assigned by the New York Fed that could have spurred costly enforcement actions and other regulatory penalties. It is not known whether the vote in fact led to a rating change. The former examiner who pushed for a downgrade, Carmen M. Segarra, now contends in a lawsuit filed on Thursday that just weeks after the vote, her superiors asked her to change her findings on Goldman and fired her after she refused.”
Ms. Segarra claims that her superiors determined that her position on Goldman Sachs was not “credible.” When she refused to change her report, she was fired.
The New York Times even weighed in on their own story, stating:
The lawsuit, along with a review by The New York Times of confidential government documents and internal e-mails, raises questions about the success of Goldman’s efforts to police potential conflicts.
Now, armed with 46 hours of secret recordings and a long list of wrongdoings by both the Fed and Goldman Sachs, Ms. Segarra is preparing to face her former employer in court after being, in her words, “wrongfully terminated.”
Snippets of Ms. Segarra’s secret audio recordings can be heard here.
After hearing the secret audio recordings, Michael Lewis, the author of Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, stated: “The Ray Rice video for the financial sector has arrived.”
The Federal Reserve couldn’t even muster a novel response. Like clockwork, it immediately moved into attack mode calling Ms. Segarra’s character into question by trotting out officials accusing her of believing “conspiracy theories.”
Anyone who has the guts to stand up to the Federal Reserve, one of the world’s most powerful financial institutions, gets my approval. The shadowy recesses of the corrupt Federal Reserve system should be disinfected with a little bit of sunshine. Ms. Segarra’s effort to provide “we the people” with audio evidence of the Fed’s inner corruption is a gift. It should be applauded by every citizen who cherishes their liberty.
Claims of “too-cozy” relations between Wall Street and the Federal Reserve come as no shock or surprise to most people who understand the financial world. It’s a given that the big banks on Wall Street put their own interests ahead of their clients. Case in point: In the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis, Goldman Sachs dumped billions of dollars of soon-to-be worthless real estate investments onto its clients. (See this, and this, and this and this.)
In 2009, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York conducted a study of itself to determine what it needed to improve to prevent a major financial crisis like the one experienced in 2008.
Michael Lewis provides a concise summary of their findings:
The Fed failed to regulate the banks because it did not encourage its employees to ask questions, to speak their minds or to point out problems… Just the opposite: The Fed encourages its employees to keep their heads down, to obey their managers and to appease the banks. That is, bank regulators failed to do their jobs properly not because they lacked the tools but because they were discouraged from using them.
Based upon Ms. Segarra’s lawsuit, Federal oversight since the 2008 stock market collapse has failed to reform the Wall Street “bankster” culture.
In 2011, a Senate subcommittee completed a two-year investigation into the inner workings of Goldman Sachs. After conducting hundreds of interviews and reviewing thousands of internal company documents and emails, the subcommittee chairman summed up the findings by saying that the bank was “a financial snake pit rife with greed, conflicts of interest, and wrongdoing.” He added that Goldman Sachs had “clearly misled their clients and they misled the Congress.”
In his controversial article entitled, The Great American Bubble Machine, Matt Taibbi writes:
They achieve this using the same playbook over and over again. The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased. They’ve been pulling this same stunt over and over since the 1920s — and now they’re preparing to do it again, creating what may be the biggest and most audacious bubble yet.
But, in the end, Goldman Sachs is just a spoke in the larger wheel of the corrupt Federal Reserve system. And who really believes that the Fed is looking out for the American people?
If the American people can ever have any hope that the Federal Reserve will be audited, stories like these must hit the mainstream. You can help by sharing this article or any other article out there…
Here’s some of the best articles that I have read on this topic in order of importance, starting with the must-listen audio clip of some of these secret recordings.
Inside the New York Fed: Secret Recordings and a Culture Clash (This American Life)
So Who is Carmen Segarra? A Fed Whistleblower Q&A (This American Life)
Suit Revives Goldman Conflict Issue (NYTimes//DealBook)
The Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes (Michael Lewis)
P.S. Here’s Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein hanging out with friends…
— GS 10,000 Women (@GS10KWomen) September 24, 2014
(Free 38 page report from FTMDaily.com)