O.co aka Overstock.com vs. Goldman Sachs: A True David & Goliath Story
Patrick M. Byrne
Chairman and CEO
For six years Overstock.com has waged a war to expose Wall Street mischief. We did not go looking for a fight, but our company wasattacked, and we learned we were not alone: the same manipulation-for-profit tools that Wall Street had deployed against us had also been deployed against many American companies, harming job creation, innovation, and economic growth. We knew that if left unchecked and unexposed, Wall Street’s games could ultimately damage U.S. capital markets.
So in 2005 and 2007 we filed two lawsuits. The first case was against a hedge fund (Rocker Partners) and hatchet-job-for-hire research team (Gradient Analytics), both with ties to Jim Cramer. The second case was against a group of eleven Wall Street prime brokers, culminating in Goldman Sachs. The hedge fund in question (Rocker Partners) hired famed lawyer David Boies, and the prime brokers showed up with an army of the most prestigious law firms in America. Our lawyers were Dore Griffinger, Ellen Cirangle, Jonathan Sommer and Catherine Jackson of Stein & Lubin, a small but excellent San Francisco law firm.
We won the hedge fund case against Gradient and Rocker, extracting an apology, a retraction and over $5 million in cash (it felt good to beat David Boies’ firm). In our prime broker case, one of the Wall Street banks (Lehman Brothers) has gone under (two, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch were sold at fire sale prices), and another seven paid us millions to let them out.
That leads us to the main event this coming December, when Overstock.com will square off against Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch (and Merrill’s parent, Bank of America) in a San Francisco courtroom. Recently, in the prosecution of this case, we uncovered evidence of collusive action between Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and other Wall Street bad guys, in a scheme designed to fool regulators and profit illegally at the expense of Overstock.com. As a result of this discovery, in December 2010, we added a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act claim and requested treble damages under this RICO claim. We firmly believe the conduct of Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch were “racketeering” and “corrupt.” We are moving forward: trial is scheduled to commence this year, on December 5, 2011. At trial we will hold Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch accountable and expose a slew of illegal Wall Street practices to the public.