Goldman Sachs' (NYSE: GS) PR flacks could use flak jackets right now. Today, the SEC announced that it was charging the bank with fraud relating to the marketing of a subprime security. However, I'd like to focus on yesterday's front-page report in the The Wall Street Journal that the government is investigating whether Rajat Gupta, a director at Goldman, shared inside information about the bank with Galleon hedge fund head Raj Rajaratnam, who's is at the heart of the government's largest insider-trading case since the 1980s. What's the potential impact for Goldman and its shareholders?

A "first" Goldman doesn't want
This latest development is certainly embarrassing for Goldman. While executives at prominent firms, including Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), IBM (NYSE: IBM), Atheros Communications (Nasdaq: ATHR) and Moody's (NYSE: MCO), have already been implicated in the massive insider trading ring, Goldman is the first investment bank to be linked to the scandal.

Furthermore, this comes at a time when the bank is trying to lay low and repair a reputation that has been savaged during the credit crisis. Because of enormous negative media coverage – some of it well-deserved – it's a good bet that much of the public believes this article's headline is self-evident, and that Goldman Sachs is insider trading. Nevertheless, among a constituency far more important to Goldman than the general public -- corporate executives -- the bank's reputation remains excellent.

Shareholders needn't be concerned
Even if the government did file charges against Gupta (which looks like a big "if" at this stage), the long-term fallout of this particular incident for Goldman will likely be very limited. Gupta is a director, not an employee. Last month, the bank announced he wouldn't stand for reelection this year.

 All the same, Goldman knows full well that it will take a lot longer to repair its reputation with the public -- and more importantly, legislators -- in the wake of the credit crisis than it did to repair its balance sheet.

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Intel and Moody's are Motley Fool Inside Value choices. Moody's is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Atheros Communications got the nod from Motley Fool Hidden Gems. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel and writing puts on Moody's. The Fool owns shares of Atheros and has created a covered strangle position on Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Alex Dumortier has no beneficial interest in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.