Big banks gonna big bank.
Goldman Sachs grabbed headlines over the last few days after announcing that it would pull out of Russia entirely, becoming the first Wall Street bank to cease operations in the country over its invasion of Ukraine. But if you were wondering whether the big bank grew a conscience, don’t worry: It has still found a way to profit off the war.
According to NBC News, Goldman Sachs has been taking advantage of a loophole in sanctions issued by the United States government to sell Russian debt to investors. The bank is basically serving as a broker, helping Russia’s creditors sell debt to American investors, who can hold onto it now and sell it later when (or if) the Russian economy recovers. The arrangement allows Russian oligarchs and entities to cash out now when they need money the most, lets American banks and hedge funds cash in later, and lets Goldman Sachs make bank off of all of it by facilitating the sales.
What Goldman is doing isn’t illegal — at least not yet. The sanctions the U.S. government has issued still allow the sale of debt that had been issued before March 1. But the scheme is a great example of how these institutions work: They only stop doing shady stuff when they absolutely have to, and they will figure out another way to profit in the meantime.