Just before the financial crisis began in September 2008, a prominent hedge fund appeared well positioned to take advantage of any turmoil in the markets. That fund, Copper River Partners, had made sizable bets months earlier against companies whose stocks it expected to suffer.Read the rest here.
Within weeks, however, Copper River, once a successful $1.5 billion hedge fund, was out of business, having unexpectedly absorbed losses on the very bets it thought would be profitable. While the market turmoil contributed to its problems, Marc Cohodes, head of Copper River, says that a significant force behind the failure was Goldman Sachs, which for years had been the firm’s broker.
Testifying recently in a lawsuit that is unrelated to Copper River’s closing, Mr. Cohodes maintained that actions taken in the fall of 2008 by Goldman in the handling of trades for Copper River had done irreparable damage to the fund. His testimony, which has not been made public, was obtained by The New York Times.
Copper River relied on Goldman to handle its negative bets, known as short sales, in compliance with securities laws. These regulations require that before a short sale can be made, the shares must be borrowed; Mr. Cohodes said his fund had paid Goldman approximately $100 million to borrow shares over many years.
In his testimony, Mr. Cohodes said he and his partners at Copper River had even come to wonder if Goldman had in fact borrowed the shares for the firm. Without the shares, Copper River faced losses, while Goldman could have come under regulatory scrutiny.
When asked whether Goldman had borrowed the shares, Michael DuVally, a Goldman spokesman, said: “Mr. Cohodes is wrong. We met our obligations under applicable law.” He added that Copper River’s problems were the result of the extreme stress in the financial markets at the time.