New York Times columnist and anti-human trafficking crusader Nicholas Kristof discovered that Goldman Sachs used to own 16 percent of Village Voice Media, which operates prostitution site Backstage.com.
Backpage.com has dominated the market for sex ads since Craigslist stopped running them. The site earns Village Voice Media $25.4 million a year. In his article, Kristof calls Backpage the "biggest forum for sex trafficking of under-age girls in the United States" and says that while many ads run in Backpage.com are for adult escorts, Backpage also "plays a major role in the trafficking of women or minors who are coerced" into prostitution.
Goldman Sachs was "mortified" when Kristof began his reporting, Kristof says, and began to "frantically" unload its Backpage shares. The day before his article was published on the New York Times website, Goldman called to report that it had signed an agreement to sell its shares to Backpage management.
A Goldman Sachs director sat on the Village Voice board for four years, but Goldman claimed it had no influence on the direction of the company. Wall Street bankers are frequent users of prostitutes. Perhaps Goldman was playing both side of the trade?