Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
(GS) was recently subpoenaed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, William Galvin, to investigate charges that the company provided preferential treatment to big clients.

The subpoena includes investigation of documents associated with secret trading tips, where Goldman Sachs allegedly gave certain traders short-term advice that differed from its long-term research.

The investigation aims to protect investor interest by assessing the basis of verbal short-term stock tips given to the firm’s clients and whether the analysis presented was exact, meticulous and open. Galvin expressed concerns that analysts’ short-term trading tips to top clients disadvantaged some Goldman customers who may have relied on the firm’s longer-term research to make investment decisions.

The tips are also being examined by both the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Securities and Exchange Commission. As of now, Goldman is the only bank under scrutiny, but there is strong likelihood of other firms being probed. Goldman is required to respond to the matter by Sept. 7.

In 2003, Galvin was one of several regulators involved in negotiating a $1.4 billion settlement with 10 big Wall Street firms, including Goldman. The firms were accused of sending out overly optimistic research in a bid to win more lucrative investment-banking business.

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