As if a nearly two-year siege of negative attention hasn't been enough of a distraction for Goldman Sachs, now the controversial investment bank appears to be battling a potential bed bug problem.
Employees who work in Goldman's Jersey City, N.J., office tower have been moved from certain floors and ordered out of the building at times because exterminators have been in checking and spraying for bed bugs, said two separate sources at the firm. Neither source was comfortable being quoted by name, citing company policy.
A Goldman Sachs spokeswoman issued ABCNews.com a statement: "We're always focused on our facilities and there are no issues." The spokeswoman would not comment on whether the building had been treated.
However, sources at the firm said exterminators last month were spraying for bed bugs on several different floors in Goldman's Jersey City office building. Floors were evacuated and dogs and pesticides were brought in. One person was moved to another floor and not allowed to take anything from the desk.
Another non-Goldman source but who is connected with the office tower's operations confirmed the spraying but added that it was done as a precautionary measure following a report from some employees there who had experienced issues with bed bugs -- outside the office. Exterminators told ABC News that companies rarely, if ever, bring in dogs and pesticides as a precautionary measure but only when enough complaints have been lodged or a problem apparent. At the same time, a full-blown response to even a whiff of bed bugs is nevertheless consistent with Goldman, a firm with deep pockets and an ongoing public relations problem post financial crisis.
"I suppose this is one way the folks on Wall Street can relate to the pain and suffering found on Main Street," joked Suzanne McGee, author of "Chasing Goldman Sachs," a new book about Wall Street's woes. "Clearly, though, they have bigger and more crucial issues to confront, such as dealing with regulators and refurbishing their battered image. Still, if the bedbug problem is widespread and related to their workplace, that's just going to be one more blow to the employees' morale. The firm has enough image problems without this."
Meanwhile, just across the river from Jersey City, bed bug infestations are on the rise in New York, according to the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York Department of Housing, Preservation & Development. HPD violations relating to bed bug cases have risen sharply in Manhattan over the past decade. In 2004, there were 17 violations. Last year there were 717, although the advent of 311 system for renters to lodge complaints and an overall awareness of the problem could play a part in that spike, an HPD spokesman said. But bed bugs are thriving, and not just in the beds and couches of apartment residences.
"As busy as we have been dealing with bed bug problems in residences, we've been even busier going into offices," said Jeff Eisenberg, president of New York-based Pest Away Exterminators. Eisenberg said his company has no extermination contracts with Goldman.