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Federal judge dismisses Goldman Sachs, other banks from GE securities lawsuit

Federal Judge Denise Cote on Wednesday dismissed a securities lawsuit [opinion, PDF] against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. [corporate website] and 41 other defendants claiming [complaint, PDF] that the banks helped mislead investors in the $12.2 billion stock offering by General Electric Co. (GE) [corporate website] back in October 2008. The claims, filed by investors in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website], were brought under the 1933 Securities Act [text, PDF] and concerned GE statements made in September 2008 indicating that GE possessed a strong, healthy financial position. Cote, however, noted that the statements in question were made in a press release, and were not incorporated in GE's prospectus supplement for the secondary offering. This fact, explained Cote, was the key distinction from her January denial of defendants' summary judgment motion, where she had improperly relied on the statements because they were presented as part of the offering documents for the shares.

Last month, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) [official website] began a fraud investigation [JURIST report] into Wells Fargo & Company [corporate website] by filing a subpoena enforcement action to force the company to turn over documents connected to its sale of $60 in residential mortgage-backed securities to investors. The fraud is allegedly due to material misrepresentations or omitted material facts in a number of Wells Fargo offerings between 2006 and 2008. The SEC is also investigating several other firms [Bloomberg report] that failed to disclose material facts related to weaknesses in offerings, and has informed Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase [corporate website] that they may also face charges. Earlier in March, the country's five largest mortgage service providers reached a $25 billion dollar agreement [JURIST report] with the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) [official websites], and 49 state attorneys general over mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure abuses. Announced in February [JURIST report], the settlement does not prevent civil suits by individual homeowners or criminal charges pursued by federal or state authorities.

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