On the same day that President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, publicly promoted the administration’s plans to overhaul financial regulations, part of Cohn’s stake in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was sold, according to federal financial-disclosure documents. The bank’s share price rose that day by 4.5 percent on news of the planned regulatory review, as other financial-industry stocks also advanced. It’s not clear whether Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs who joined Trump’s White House in January, was personally aware of the Feb. 3 stock sale, which was worth as much as $5 million. Such transactions are frequently handled by independent managers.
The disclosure documents provide asset values only in ranges; on Feb. 3, they show, Cohn sold between $1 million and $5 million worth of Goldman Sachs stock.
Before markets opened that day, the Wall Street Journal published an exclusive interview with Cohn under the headline, “Donald Trump Plans to Undo Dodd-Frank Law, Fiduciary Rule.” By 11:15 a.m., Goldman shares had risen 4.3 percent to $240.37. Later that morning, Cohn gave several interviews promoting a planned review of financial regulatory standards adopted during former President Barack Obama’s administration and known generally as the Dodd-Frank law.
“From the executive office, the number-one priority we have is job growth,” Cohn said on Bloomberg Television. “We have been told we need deregulation to grow jobs in this country. We are not anti-regulation. We want smart regulation that allows our financial services to be the envy of the world.” The bank’s shares closed at $240.95 on Feb. 3, 4.5 percent higher than the previous close. In general, news of the administration’s deregulation plans helped send financial stocks higher that day. The 63-company Standard & Poor’s 500 Financials Index had advanced 2 percent at 5 p.m. in New York. Cohn’s financial-disclosure forms list only the dates of sales, not the precise time of day. Consequently, it’s unclear whether his Feb. 3 sale took place at or near the peak for Goldman Sachs’s share price.
The documents show that Cohn sold as much as $284.9 million worth of stock in various companies, including Goldman Sachs, on various dates between Jan. 25 and March 30. He sold Goldman Sachs shares in 15 transactions for a total value between $47 million and $235 million, according to the disclosures.