NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Goldman Sachs ( GS) released a long-anticipated report on its website Tuesday declaring the firm's "re-commitment" to several abstract business practices while proposing new "disclosure" initiatives. "We believe the recommendations contained in this report represent a fundamental re-commitment by Goldman Sachs: a re-commitment to our clients and the primacy of their interests; a re-commitment to reputational excellence associated with everything the firm does; a re-commitment to transparency of our business performance and risk management practices; a re-commitment to strong, accountable processes that reemphasize the importance of appropriate behavior and doing the right thing; and a re-commitment to making the firm a better institution," the report by the Business Standards Committee report says. One area that has generated some attention from commentators, in the hope Goldman might show some improvement, is financial reporting. A section of the report titled "transparency and disclosure," states that the committee had an "objective of improving" these areas, but then provides two paragraphs of "context," explaining that disclosures must comply with the law, be consistent with those of "peers and competitors," and "not competitively disadvantage the firm." Following those disclaimers, the report recommends that Goldman create a new business segment called "investing and lending," for reporting purposes. Included in this segment would be details about Goldman's investment in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which Goldman already discloses, as well as sections titled: "debt," "equity," and "other." Goldman weathered the financial crisis far better than other large institutions such as Citigroup ( C), Bank of America ( BAC), AIG ( AIG), Morgan Stanley ( MS), not to mention Lehman Brothers Bear Stearnsand Merrill Lynch. However, Goldman was seen by many as arrogant, refusing to acknowledge much if any debt to the government, and possibly even contributing to the crisis by selling financial products many executives at the firm fully expected to blow up. Under attack in 2010 from the public, regulators, members of Congress and often, it seemed, President Obama himself, Goldman announced at its May 7 shareholder meeting it would create a "standards committee" to review its business practices. Goldman's standards committee is comprised mainly of firm executives, with a few outsiders, such as Wal-Mart ( WMT) Chairman Lee Scott and Sullivan and Cromwell superlawyer Rodgin Cohen. -- Written by Dan Freed in New York.
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