Collins questions Goldman executives

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Maine’s U.S. Sen. Susan Collins took over duties for an absent colleague as the top Republican on a subcommittee that grilled executives from Goldman Sachs on Tuesday, but she was less than impressed with their performance.

“It’s troubling to me that the employees of Goldman kept evading what I thought was a pretty straight-forward question about whether they had an ethical duty to watch out what was in the best interest of their clients,” Collins said after the hearing, according to her press office. “What is amazing to me is that they wouldn’t answer that question. That was very frustrating and really reflected disdain and arrogance.”

The Senate hearing was scheduled weeks ago, but gained extra attention because of recent charges brought against the Wall Street investment giant by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Goldman is accused of misleading investors on deals it was itself making bets against.

Collins repeatedly asked the firm’s top brass if Goldman Sachs had an ethical obligation to their clients to be upfront about the deals, but the witnesses did their best to waste time by thumbing through documents and generally circumvent answering the question.

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“I’ll leave it up to the S.E.C., which has brought charges against Goldman in one case whether it’s a legal issue, but I would argue they do have an ethical obligation to their clients,” Collins said. “It seems to me that Goldman has an obligation to fully disclose to clients not only the details of the products it’s trying to sell, but also what its own interests are.”

Editor’s note:

Sen. Collins first appears in this video clip at about the 28-minute mark.

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