History may be on the side of Goldman Sachs Group chief executive Lloyd Blankfein. Big Wall Street firms seldom remove their leaders, even after they are sued for fraud and fined by federal regulators. "It's now very, very unusual for the CEO to be forced out unless he was directly involved in the behavior," said James Coffman, who retired as an assistant director of enforcement at the SEC in 2007. In 2003, 10 firms, including Goldman Sachs, were charged with fraud and agreed to pay fines, but not one CEO lost their job.

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