* US Senator Levin asked for Goldman criminal probe in 2011
* Goldman 'pleased that this matter is behind us'
WASHINGTON Aug 10 The U.S. Justice Department's
decision not to prosecute Goldman Sachs Group Inc for its
subprime mortgage trades resulted from either "weak laws or weak
enforcement," the senator who asked for a criminal investigation
of the firm said on Friday.
A day after the department announced its decision,
Democratic Senator Carl Levin reiterated in a written statement
the criticisms he lodged against Goldman beginning more than two
years ago. He called the firm's actions "deceptive and immoral."
Goldman said it did nothing wrong in its marketing of
mortgage securities, including one known as Abacus that was the
subject of televised hearings before Levin's investigative
subcommittee in 2010. The hearings focused on whether Goldman
was wrong to sell products that it disparaged internally.
Levin said he is still convinced Goldman was in the wrong.
"It misled investors by claiming its interests in those
securities were 'aligned' with theirs while at the same time it
was betting heavily against those same securities, and therefore
against its own clients, to its own substantial profit," he said
Goldman settled a related civil investigation by the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission for $550 million in July 2010
without admitting wrongdoing.
In April 2011, Levin asked for a criminal probe on the day
that he and Republican Senator Tom Coburn released a 639-page
report on the financial crisis.
The unsigned Justice Department statement on Thursday on its
decision not to prosecute said that "the burden of proof to
bring a criminal case could not be met based on the law and
facts as they exist at this time."
A Goldman spokesman reacted on Thursday with a brief email:
"We are pleased that this matter is behind us."
To critics, the department's decision was another example of
the inability of prosecutors to pinpoint blame for a financial
crisis that pushed the United States into a severe recession
from which the economy is still recovering only slowly.
Levin said the 2010 banking and Wall Street regulation
overhaul known as Dodd-Frank is part of a solution if regulators
"do not water it down" and "enforce those rules with vigor."