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Religious Proposal on Swaps Disclosure Gets Attention

April 6th, 2010

article_derivativesGoldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. aren’t doing “God’s work” when it comes to derivatives, according to investor groups of nuns and priests. The investors were referring to a remark made last November by Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein’s who said he was a banker doing “God’s work”

“The use of these instruments, if they’re not disclosed by the dealers and the information made available, by their very nature can contribute to systemic risk,” said Father Seamus Finn, a director with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Washington, D.C., one of the co-sponsors of the resolutions.

Shareholders will vote starting this month on proposals sponsored by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth and 14 other religious organizations, asking Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. to give more information on the collateral used in their derivatives trading.

It’s the first time the four banks, among the largest U.S. swaps dealers, will put to a nonbinding vote a call to explain how collateral of derivatives customers is used and to keep it from other accounts. Congress is considering bills that would require more derivatives deals be processed through clearinghouses, privately owned third parties that guarantee transactions and keep track of collateral and margin.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, in February and March decisions, backed the religious groups’ bid to put the proposal up for a vote by shareholders of JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citigroup. New York-based Goldman Sachs, the most profitable firm in Wall Street history, agreed separately to add the resolution to its proxy statement.

Articles on this proposal appeared late last week in Bloomberg and Bloomberg Business Week. Read the full story here…

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