Treasury May Block Goldman Sachs, Fannie Mae Deal

Deal could help Fannie Mae but is Goldman Sachs becoming too powerful?

ByABC News
November 2, 2009, 11:23 AM

Nov. 2, 2009— -- The Treasury Department could block a possible deal between Goldman Sachs and struggling government-backed mortgage giant Fannie Mae, a Department spokesman said today.

Goldman is reportedly in talks with Fannie to buy millions of dollars in tax credits, but Treasury stands in the way of the deal.

"Treasury is reviewing and will not let it proceed unless it is clearly in the taxpayers' interest," Treasury Department spokesman Andrew Williams said Monday.

Goldman Sachs' CEO Michael DuVally did not confirm or deny that the company was working on a deal with Fannie Mae to buy the tax credits.

Echoing Williams' comments that any deal would have to benefit taxpayers, DuVally said, ""Fannie Mae is owned and controlled by the federal government. The only basis on which approval for any transaction would be given would be if it was clearly in the taxpayers' best interest."

The potential deal could be financially beneficial, but politically damaging. While the deal would help Fannie Mae improve its precarious financial state, it could also trigger more political criticisms about the close ties between Goldman Sachs and Treasury.

Treasury Department officials were reminded of these concerns at a Congressional hearing last Wednesday, when three House lawmakers expressed concerns about the power of Goldman Sachs.

"We have this reckless and dangerous and -- and risky behavior which we have no evidence is going to cease to exist," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-IL, at the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee hearing on the government's proposed resolution authority to wind down large failing firms. "So we should assume that Wall Street and those on Wall Street, the Goldman Sachs of the world, are going to continue to conduct themselves and behave as they have in the past. And so therefore, we have these new powers and this new regime to constrain them. But we also know that they are great at getting around those constraints in the past."

"We also know that -- with all due respect to you," Gutierrez said to Geithner, "that in the past, I mean, we have like one CEO of Goldman Sachs after another having your job. How do we know the next Secretary of the Treasury won't be the former CEO of Goldman Sachs as they have been in the past? They seem to be interwoven, and that's what the American public sees. They see the interconnectedness in terms of their power, their influence and always to their benefit."