Federal Judge Upholds Shareholder Suit Against 'Orwellian' Goldman Sachs

A federal judge has described Goldman Sachs as "Orwellian," which doesn't mean the company is staffed by talking pigs, but rather that -- like the Ingsoc government in George Orwell's 1984 -- they have a habit of using words to mean what they don't.

Manhattan federal court judge Paul Crotty wrote in an opinion issued Thursday that when Goldman uses "[w]ords such as ‘honesty,’ ‘integrity,’ and ‘fair dealing’ [the words] apparently do not mean what they say," New York Post reports.

The comments came in reference to a lawsuit against Goldman that the judge allowed to proceed last week. In that suit, a horde of Goldman shareholders -- including the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, the West Virginia Investment Management Board and the Plumbers and Pipefitters National Pension Fund -- accused the firm of painting a deceptively sunny picture about some fairly important information, like how it was allegedly selling lousy derivatives to clients while betting against those same derivatives.

The deals named in the suit, involving financial instruments called Abacus, Hudson, Anderson and Timberwolf, are the same transactions described in a damning Senate report last year.

According to that report, Goldman did indeed market deals to its clients that it knew to be of poor quality -- or "shitty," as Senator Carl Levin might say, over and over -- all the while setting itself up for a windfall by betting against that those assets.

In March of this year, a widely read New York Times piece by departing executive director Greg Smith also depicted Goldman Sachs as a place that puts profits over investors. Smith described hearing "morally bankrupt people" brag about "ripping their clients off."

In response to Smith's broadside, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein admitted that "[w]e haven't gotten everything right in how we deal with the public." No word on Blankfein's thoughts on doublespeak.