US President Barack Obama stated “categorically” Wednesday that the White House had no prior knowledge of civil fraud charges leveled by US regulators against Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs.
The charges against Goldman by the Securities and Exchange Commission came at a pivotal point of his drive to pass what he has billed as the most sweeping reform of risky business practices in the US finance industry in decades.
Asked whether his administration had known about the charges before they were made public on Friday, Obama said “categorically” that it had not.
“The SEC is an entirely independent agency that we have no day to day control over and they never discussed with us anything with respect to the charges that would be brought,” Obama said in a CNBC interview.
“This notion that somehow there would be an attempt to interfere in an independent agency is completely false,” Obama said.
“We found out about it on CNBC,” Obama said.
The civil suit filed by the SEC on Friday accused Goldman of “defrauding investors by misstating and omitting key facts” about a financial product based on subprime mortgage-backed securities.
The securities were a key contributor to the financial crisis that peaked in 2008 because many contained risky mortgages.
Obama will Thursday take the case for financial reform directly to the US financial capital with a speech in New York City.
This video is from CNBC, broadcast April 21, 2010.