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Business

US drops probe into banking giant

Investment bank Goldman Sachs has escaped prosecution over its alleged part in the global financial crisis. The bank had been held up as a symbol of Wall Street greed.

In a statement late Thursday, the U.S. Justice Department said "there is not a viable basis to bring a criminal prosecution with respect to Goldman Sachs or its employees."

The charges, related to trades made during the financial crisis, were highlighted in a 2011 U.S Senate report.

The Senate committee alleged the financial services giant betted its own money on the imminent collapse of the credit market, all the while including investments tied to subprime mortgages in its clients' portfolios. U.S. Senator Carl Levin said Goldman misled the country's Congress and investors.

The Senate inquiry focused on a subprime mortgage known as Abacus.

'Burden of proof not met'

The decision by the Justice Department to announce it wasn't prosecuting Goldman Sachs is unusual, as the department typically does not make public statements when it concludes an investigation.

"The department and investigative agencies ultimately concluded that the burden of proof to bring a criminal case could not be met based on the law and facts as they exist at this time," the Justice Department said in a statement late on Thursday.

The statement said investigators and prosecutors worked on their inquiry for "more than a year."

"If any additional or new evidence emerges, today's assessment does not prevent the department from reviewing such evidence and making a different determination, if warranted," the statement said.

Calls for accountability

Since the beginning of the global financial crisis in 2008, Goldman Sachs and the wider financial sector have come under widespread condemnation from politicians and the public.

"We are pleased that this matter is behind us," said the bank's spokesman David Wells.

However, the case is a reminder that no individual or organization has been held accountable for their role in the crisis, according to Neil Barofsky, a former supervisor of the U.S. government's financial system bailout in 2008. Barofsky is an outspoken critic of that government's response to the financial crisis.

"Without such accountability, the unending parade of megabanks scandals will inevitably continue," he said.

jr/slk (Reuters, dpa)