Stan Honda/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesCyrus Vance Jr., the district attorney of Manhattan, is said to be investigating Goldman Sachs.
9:21 p.m. | Updated
The bad news just keeps coming for Goldman Sachs.
The Wall Street investment bank has received a subpoena from the office of the Manhattan district attorney, which is investigating Goldman’s role in the financial crisis, said one person familiar with the subpoena.
It comes amid increased enforcement scrutiny of the company, which has faced blistering criticism that it shorted — or bet against — the mortgage market before it collapsed and that it knowingly sold bundles of bad mortgages to its clients. Goldman denies these accusations.
The inquiry stems from a 650-page Senate report from the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations that indicated Goldman had misled clients and Congress about its practices related to mortgage-linked securities.
Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, who led the Congressional inquiry, had sent his findings to the Justice Department to figure out whether executives broke the law. The agency said it was reviewing the report.
The subpoena means several government agencies may be running parallel, and possibly competing, investigations. The subpoena arrived Friday and is limited to ground covered in the Senate report, said the person familiar with it, who was not authorized to speak on the record. Subpoenas are requests for information and do not necessarily mean charges against Goldman or individuals at the company are inevitable.
Still, the development of a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., did not seem to surprise investors.
“This news is not unexpected,” Christopher Maimone, an analyst at Standard Poor’s Equity Research, wrote in a note to clients, explaining that Senator Levin’s referral had made continued investigations a near certainty.
Still, shares of Goldman fell $1.79, or 1.3 percent, to close at $134.38, though earlier in the day, before investors digested the news, its shares fell as much as 3.5 percent. Goldman shares traded above $170 at the beginning of the year.
Goldman’s chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, who has run the company since 2006, has privately told people recently that he has no plans to leave the company and wants to see it through this difficult period. Still, the recent subpoenas are sure to resurrect calls for a change at the top.
“You would have to think that the more these types of headlines persist, the greater pressure there will be for change,” said William Tanona, an analyst at the investment bank UBS. He has previously worked at Goldman Sachs.
Whatever the outcome of the investigations, investors do not expect Goldman itself to be indicted. No firm has ever survived such a blow. E. F. Hutton Company and Drexel Burnham Lambert collapsed after being indicted in the 1980s before the cases even went to trial.
Brad Hintz, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Company, said in a note to investors on Tuesday that he believed that the government might seek to reach a settlement with Goldman.
“In a worst case environment, we would expect a ‘too big to fail’ bank such as Goldman to be offered a deferred-prosecution agreement, pay a significant fine and submit to a federal monitor in lieu of a criminal charge,” he wrote.
The subpoena came almost two weeks after lawyers for Goldman Sachs met with the office of the attorney general of New York for an “exploratory” meeting about the Senate report, the people said.
In a statement, Goldman Sachs said: “We don’t comment on specific regulatory or legal issues, but subpoenas are a normal part of the information request process and, of course, when we receive them we cooperate fully.”
Goldman was one of the survivors of the financial crisis. But it has come under fire from the public and Washington since then. It was first attacked for its outsize pay packages, which came at a time when most of America was still reeling from the crisis. Then, in April 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil fraud suit against the company. Goldman was accused of creating a mortgage product that was intended to fail. The company settled with the S.E.C., agreeing to pay $550 million without admitting or denying guilt.
It was one of the darkest chapters in the company’s 142-year history, and it catapulted Goldman into the public spotlight, a place the secretive company was unaccustomed to. Rolling Stone magazine, hardly a first read on Wall Street, began writing regularly about the firm, calling it a “vampire squid.”