Mark-up a small victory for the investigative/enforcement wing of the SEC, who today saw a jury of nine return verdicts of liable in the bulk of it’s accusations again the former French trader Fabrice Tourre of Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS).
Tourre found guilty of misleading investors
The SEC maintained that the trader Tourre, who has subsequently left Wall Street to pursue a PhD. in economics, was guilty of misleading investors in a mortgage-linked deal that fell apart during the financial crisis.
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“It was a long, slow process,” said juror Beth Glover, a 47-year-old Episcopal priest, after the verdict. What they couldn’t find a female Catholic priest?
To say that the SEC has become a joke amongst the investment community in its efforts to go after high-profile traders following an economic collapse cum crisis risks understatement. And the words of relief that were spoken by the SEC afterwards reveal this.
“We’re obviously gratified with the jury’s verdict and we appreciate their hard work,” said Matthew Martens, the lead SEC lawyer, after the verdict was delivered. He almost seemed surprised to the point of taking no credit for himself or his investigative team. Never mind that he would have been found not guilty in any criminal court and that the majority of Americans (potential jurors) don’t have the slightest ability to understand the charges brought against Mr. Tourre let alone rule on them which will certainly brought up in appeal.
Andrew Ceresney’s statement
Andrew Ceresney, co-director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, added in a statement: “We will continue to vigorously seek to hold accountable, and bring to trial when necessary, those who commit fraud on Wall Street.”
The expected punishment? Mr. Tourre may face a fine and a ban from the securities industry. A fine that the fairly junior Mr. Tourre certainly has at his disposal.
In April 2010, the SEC sued Mr. Tourre and Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE:GS) for securities fraud, alleging they misled investors in a collateralized debt obligation called Abacus 2007-AC1. Within months, and certainly in an effort to distancing themselves from the suit, Goldman looked at the change in its pocket (or sofa most recently sat in) and paid $550 million without admitting complicity or guilt.
No question, the highlight of the trial was the indictment of the arrogant French people themselves when the SEC chose to focus on a single email to Mr. Tourres girlfriend (Marine Serres) where Tourre wrote, “The entire building is at risk of collapse at any moment. Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab (as Mitch would kindly call me, even though there is nothing fabulous about me…) standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all the implications of these monstrosities.”
Mr. Tourre called the note a “silly romantic email to my girlfriend, sent as I was very stressed that day,” and said it was referencing a newspaper article he had forwarded to Ms. Serres.
Well, so much for romance.