Goldman Sachs banker settles SEC 'pay-to-play' charges


Former Goldman Sachs banker Neil Morrison agreed to pay $100,000 to settle charges for his role in a pay-to-play scheme involving a Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign, the largest such penalty paid by an individual, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Thursday.

Morrison also was barred from the securities industry for five years in the first industry ban for violating municipal bond market rules on "pay-to-play," or the making of campaign donations in exchange for political favors, the SEC said.

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Thomas Kiley, a lawyer for Morrison, had no immediate comment.

"These tough sanctions against Morrison show that we take abuses of the pay-to-play rules in the municipal securities industry very seriously and will hold individuals accountable for their violations," said Elaine Greenberg, chief of the Municipal Securities and Public Pensions Unit, in the SEC Enforcement Division.

Goldman Sachs settled charges relating to the case in September, paying $12 million. Goldman spokesman Michael DuVally was not immediately available for comment.

In recent months, the SEC has turned up the heat on the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market. In most of the cases, it has held off penalizing individuals.

(Reporting By Lisa Lambert and Jonathan Stempel; Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch)