9 Sep 2010

Goldman fine: minnow to catch a shark

The biggest fine ever meted out to any financial services company.

Britain’s regulator the FSA visits a fine of £17.5m on the US investment bank Goldman Sachs (casino, to use Vince Cable’s word on Channel 4 News last night).

Suddenly £17.5m seems a very small sum. And sources say it would have been considerably bigger had Goldman not thrown in the towel at an early stage and started negotiating the matter.
Suddenly though you begin to wonder whether the state is any longer a big enough player to cope with these mega institutions. Dare a financial regulator bring the full force of the law to bear. According to my friend, a former treasury chief, a fine of £350m was in play.

£17.5m is therefore a pale shadow of what the FSA originally wanted to levy. £17.5m is breakfast for many of the top dogs at Goldman.

It has me thinking about John Le Carre’s latest book Our Kind of Traitor in which he explores his conviction that capitalism in the west is now alarmingly beholden to dirty Russian money in circulation and to the Oligarchs who have control of it.

I have been down to his remote Cornish retreat to interview him in what he describes as his last ever TV interview. I’ll be blogging and writing about it in the coming days – watch this space.

Goldman today, the oligarchs tomorrow? Not.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4