The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Friday civil fraud charges against the Wall Street powerhouse and one of its vice presidents. The agency alleges Goldman failed to disclose that one of its clients helped create -- and then bet against -- subprime mortgage securities that Goldman sold to investors.
Investors in the mortgage securities are alleged to have lost more than $1 billion, the SEC noted.
The Goldman client implicated in the fraud is one of the world's largest hedge funds, Paulson & Co., which paid Goldman roughly $15 million for structuring the deals in 2007.
Goldman Sachs shares fell more than 10 percent after the SEC announcement.
The civil lawsuit filed by the SEC in federal court in Manhattan was the government's most significant legal action related to the mortgage meltdown that ignited the financial crisis and helped plunge the country into recession.
A Goldman Sachs spokesman didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.