Bill Hwang, a former hedge fund manager who’d pleaded guilty to insider trading, was deemed such a risk by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. that as recently as late 2018 the firm refused to do business with him.

Those misgivings didn’t last.

Wall Street’s premier investment bank, lured by the tens of millions of dollars a year in commissions that a whale like Hwang paid to rival dealers, removed his name from its blacklist and allowed him to become a major client. Just as Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse Group AG and others did, Goldman fueled a pipeline of billions of dollars in credit for Hwang to make highly leveraged bets on stocks such as Chinese tech giant Baidu Inc. and media conglomerate ViacomCBS Inc.

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