James Moore: The level of candour is an indication of the predicament the bank is in

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The Independent Online

It's Goldman Sachs, naked. I've been covering "the firm" to a greater or lesser degree for nearly a decade. But I never thought I'd see this. In its latest attempt to (at least partially) damp down the flames of a controversy that threatens to engulf the bank we've been treated (if that's the word) to a snapshot of a company in crisis, and the innermost thoughts of some of its high priests. From the attempts to head off critical coverage by head of PR Lucas van Praag (and the terse response of CEO Lloyd Blankfein) to the detailed thoughts of its traders during the financial crisis, to the lovelorn twitterings of the Fabrice "Fab" Tourre, the man in the eye of the storm, the insight offered is quite unprecedented.

Goldman is not an easy bank to get to know. It doesn't exactly enjoy dirtying its hands with vulgar activities like associating with journalists. Not for Goldman the plush receptions at the Tate held by rivals, where you're given the chance to talk collateralised debt obligations over a glass of champers. Even its analysts – usually one of the more talkative species in the investment banking jungle – have a habit of slamming down the phone when you say you are a reporter.

At Goldman, a summons to its art deco fortress on Fleet Street is a rarity, usually happening only when the bank has a specific purpose for you – like giving one of its clients a favourable write-up or backing its side in a takeover battle. As such Goldman doesn't have many friends to call on at times like this. Journalists have nothing to lose by dipping their pens in poison, and there are any number of people in the City (and Wall Street) queueing up with cyanide.

What propelled Goldman to the top of the investment banking tree – a hard-faced, ruthless focus on money, money and more money to the exclusion of anything else, now threatens to drown it. So, time for a sacrificial lamb, perhaps? Poor Fab (he refers to himself in the third person). The release of his very personal e-mails to Marine Serres (why do people still use their work addresses for such things) threaten to make this one time would-be master of the universe a subject of ridicule.

Goldman has been insisting that Fab's done nothing wrong and remains an employee of the bank (albeit one taking time off) but he's been de-registered as a London trader and these emails surely suggest he'll very soon need a new career. Does Mills & Boon still need writers?

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