Another Wall Street securities firm is taking its place on the hot seat today. The House Financial Services Committee says Goldman Sachs(NYSE: GS) gave executives at 21 companies the chance to buy hot IPO shares in exchange for lucrative investment-banking business -- a practice known as "spinning." Earlier this week, Citigroup's(NYSE: C) Salomon Smith Barney was accused of the same thing.

The executives receiving IPO shares, according to the committee report, included eBay(Nasdaq: EBAY) CEO Meg Whitman, Yahoo!(Nasdaq: YHOO) co-founder Jerry Yang, former Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay, and former Tyco(NYSE: TYC) CEO Dennis Kozlowski. The Wall Street Journal says Whitman and Yang each received stock in more than 100 IPOs, "and quickly resold many of the shares at a profit." What kind of alleged back-scratching did Goldman receive in return? Eight million dollars worth of investment-banking business from eBay, for starters.

The real issue here is how small investors were used as pawns at the height of the bubble. "These initial public offerings seemed to be anything but public," says Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.). "A small circle of preferred clients were given vast access by the investment banks to IPO shares and reaped large profits." Meanwhile, individuals had to wait until the shares were traded on the open market, usually at much higher prices.

Goldman vehemently denies the charges, calling the allegations "an egregious distortion of the facts." Whatever the specifics of this particular case, it's clear the IPO process was generally rigged to favor the fat cats at the expense of individual investors.