Among the legal action expected in the coming months:
- Class-action suits by Goldman shareholders who believe Goldman alleged misconduct made their stakes less valuable could come as early as Monday. Such suits are common when companies are accused of wrongdoing. Goldman shares fell almost 13% Friday as the bank lost $12.5 billion in market capitalization.
- Suits by investors who believe Goldman sold them on deals that were doomed to fail. The investors in the transaction at the heart of the SEC case could sue first, followed by others who believe their losses were similar.
- Possible criminal charges, if the SEC's civil case reveals evidence that meets the higher standard of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt." Experts said it's unlikely the company as a whole will face criminal charges, but evidence could emerge that would expose the Goldman executive named in the SEC complaint, 31-year-old Fabrice Tourre, to criminal prosecution.
- Charges by regulators about other mortgage investments at Goldman and elsewhere. SEC enforcement chief Robert Khuzami told reporters Friday the agency is racking up evidence on other deals in the overheated market that preceded the financial crisis.
Already the case has provoked legal questions from foreign governments, according to published reports. That's because the financial crisis forced many countries to bail out banks that lost money on investments arranged by Goldman.
German regulators are considering legal action against Goldman, newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported, quoting a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The charges would be on behalf of IKB Deutsche Industriebank AG — an early victim of the financial crisis that was rescued by the state-owned KfW development bank among others. IKB invested in the deal regulators are targeting.