The decision to call former Goldman saleswoman Gail Kreitman out of order comes a day after a combative back and forth between the SEC and one of its top witnesses: Paolo Pellegrini, a former lieutenant to billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson. Her testimony is important because she may be the first witness to link Mr. Tourre to statements made to ACA Financial Guaranty Corp., which acted as the portfolio-selection agent on the transaction. The SEC has alleged that Mr. Tourre hid from ACA that Mr. Paulson’s hedge fund, Paulson & Co., planned to bet against the deal. As part of her testimony, the SEC is expected to play a tape recorded by ACA’s phone system in which Ms. Kreitman reportedly says that Paulson was taking a “hundred percent of the equity” in the deal, implying it was betting the instrument’s value would rise, not fall…Matthew Martens, a SEC lawyer, said Thursday that the regulator decided to change the order of its witnesses in an effort to speed the presentation of its case. The SEC is considering limiting the testimony of or not calling at all David Gerst, one of Mr. Tourre’s closest colleagues at Goldman, Mr. Martens said. Mr. Gerst had been expected to testify as early as Thursday. The late notice didn’t make the defense happy: they said the parties had reached a handshake agreement to give the other side 48 hours notice before a witness was called. [WSJ]
Guy Who Spent All Of 2007 Telling People He Was Short Housing Vaguely Remembers Telling Someone He Was Short HousingBy Matt Levine
In testimony Wednesday, Paolo Pellegrini, the former Paulson & Co managing director, said he made clear to ACA Capital Holdings Inc that Paulson wanted to bet against the deal.
“As I told all collateral selection agents, we were interested in shorting a CDO, shorting subprime securities in a CDO,” said Pellegrini, one of the architects of hedge fund manager John Paulson’s bet against subprime mortgages in 2006 and 2007. …
Pellegrini, one of two people who worked on Paulson’s strategy to take the stand so far, testified Wednesday he believed he told the principal employee at ACA working on Abacus, Laura Schwartz, about Paulson’s strategy over drinks during a “shindig” for people in the CDO industry.
“I think there was some discussion of the portfolio and what we were trying to accomplish by shorting the market,” he said.
Remember Paolo Pellegrini? For those who need a refresher, the Italian Stallion is the former Paulson and Co. employee who helped John come up with a highly lucrative subprime trade, later leaving the firm to set up his own shop (the delightfully named PSQR AKA Pellegrini Squared) after some reported friction re: whether or not he was getting enough credit for netting the hedge fund billions via ‘the greatest trade ever.’ PSQR returned 40% in 2008 and 61.6% in 2009 and then in August 2010, Pellegrini gave back all outside investor capital, stating that he would be focusing on managing his own money. And speaking of Paolo’s pennies, the ones he had invested with Paulson have taken a li’l bit of a hit lately. But according to Big P, who previously dabbled in DJ’ing and efforts to get pot legalized, it’s all good. Read more »
Whether they could have avoided it, I don’t know–today’s Securities and Exchange Commission acts like a wounded animal–the management of Goldman, Sachs & Co. made a strategic error by failing to cultivate a closer relationship with the new regime. That much is evident from the fact that the suit came as a surprise. Chairman Schapiro is quite capable of partnering with industry: Had Goldman done better, earlier, there might never have been a lawsuit. Popular wisdom says that Goldman should settle. I disagree. Although both parties understand that cooperation beats enmity, the SEC chose not to cooperate; and now, Goldman’s best strategy is to respond in kind. Read more »
If you’re Paolo Pellegrini,* tipping off the SEC to your former employer’s role in today’s Goldman case, according to CNBC’s Steve Liesman.
*Whose attitude resulted in being more encouraged to leave the hedge fund (as opposed to leaving on his own terms) than has been suggested in various stories quoting P-squared (which, BTW, is what he calls himself).
UPDATE: A spokesperson for P-Squared has released the following statement:
In 2008, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approached Paulson & Co., among a number of financial institutions, as part of a publicly disclosed inquiry into collateralized debt obligations. At that time, Paolo Pellegrini was a portfolio manager for Paulson & Co. and was familiar with the CDO market. Paulson & Co. provided the SEC with the names of employees, including Mr. Pellegrini, who might be interviewed as part of the SEC’s inquiry. Mr. Pellegrini cooperated fully with the SEC ‘s inquiry as did a number of his colleagues at Paulson & Co.
Mr. Pellegrini left Paulson & Co. at the end of 2008 to form his own investment firm. Mr. Pellegrini maintains an amicable relationship with Mr. Paulson and remains grateful for the professional opportunities extended to him by Mr. Paulson, for whom he has the highest regard.
Who needs John Paulson? Not Paolo Pellegrini.
Canned by JP for his bad attitude, this Italian Stallion knows that living well is the best revenge. And so far, Pellegrini’s PSQR Management is living very well, up almost 65% this year.
This would not be the time he asked for more money to do less work but rather when he pulled John into a room to show his former boss how he was going to make a metric fuck-ton of money for the firm, which Bloomberg gets into in a profile of P-squared (which, awesomely, is actually what he calls himself):
“After hearing a lot of arguments for and against the presence of the bubble, we had a simple and clear insight of our own to go by,” Pellegrini says.
He recalls that Paulson broke into a smile when he showed him the proof that houses were overpriced. “John doesn’t smile,” Pellegrini says. “It felt great.”
Careful analysis shows that this statement is not exactly true. Paulson JP practically grins when seated next to Jack Welch’s German doppelgänger. No matter– Pellegs made Paulson smile once and then the two got back to making money and taking money, only occasionally glancing up to motion to a life-size cutout of Alan Greenspan and go “look at this idiot” to each other.
Fast-forward to the end of 2008 (and a bunch of dollars later) and Pellegrini, by several accounts, proposed to Paulson and Pals that his new purview permit him to indulge himself a bit more. Basically Pellegs wanted the go-ahead to spends his days waxing poetic on larger geopolitical issues that required constant consultations with peers like Henry Kissenger, David H. Petraeus, Tila Tequila, etc, and to spend less of his time slicing numbers to figure out if Ben Bernanke was going to survive the next option arm reset (he also wanted more money to do so). The two parties diverged from there, with P-squared being more encouraged to leave the building (as opposed to leaving on his own terms) than is necessarily suggested here. It’s not that JP and Pals were opposed to P^2 drastically redefining what he did for the firm but apparently the attitude that came with the demand that ‘Legs have a red phone to Putin installed in his office and be referred to as “The Talent” in front of the Limited Partners was rubbing people the wrong way.
And now you’re all going to potentially benefit! P.Legs struck out on his own with PSQR Management, which returned 80 percent through July and will be marketed to outsiders (for now it’s all his money) in 2010. Presumably he’ll be looking to hire a few more man boys to help run the the place sometime soon. Let’s try Pellegs on for size. If you like what you see, if it’s all you ever wanted (superficially) in a boss, considering shooting a res.