'Chinese wall' is the term used to describe work systems in a company which is acting for clients with conflicting interests. These are intended to reassure clients and others that the company is able to fully promote the interests of both clients simultaneously, even if those clients' interests are at odds with each other. So they have different staff, and procedures to prevent one set accessing the files of the other and so on...
Occasionally a firm may have to hope that its clients' confidence in these Chinese walls survives media reports like this one by Laura Noonan in yesterday's Irish Independent.
INVESTMENT bank Goldman Sachs is snapping up discounted Quinn Group debt on behalf of clients while simultaneously advising the Government on Anglo Irish Bank's Quinn dealings.
The Irish Independent has learned that Goldman Sachs has been retained by the National Treasury Management Agency (Ntma) to run the rule over various plans submitted by Anglo.
This role includes examining Anglo's proposal to buy embattled Quinn Insurance to improve the bank's chances of recouping a €2.7bn debt owed by the wider Quinn Group and family, sources confirmed.
Separately, Goldman Sachs traders have also been actively buying up Quinn Group bonds on behalf of its clients.
Goldman plays dual role with Quinn Group - World, Business - Independent.ie
The story goes on to note that the relatively 'small' level of debt - €50,000,000 - that's been bought by Goldman means the bank's clients could not have a deciding say in the way the Quinn Group's debt is ultimately restructured.
However, the value of Goldman's clients' Quinn debt could rise or fall depending on the way Anglo's outstanding issues with Quinn are resolved.
Which outcome would Goldman prefer?
From the archive:
...Other emails that emerged yesterday showed Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman’s chief executive, boasting about the money the bank made from the housing market collapse
Goldman trader's email slur - Times Online