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Quite surprised to see a front page Times article that includes some real old fashioned reporting, with a smoking gun "found" laptop computer containing legal documents regarding the SEC's puzzling focus on one particular player at Goldman Sachs...

At the height of the housing boom, the 26th floor of Goldman Sachs’s former headquarters on Broad Street in Lower Manhattan was the nerve center of Goldman’s fast-growing mortgage trading business.

Hundreds of employees worked closely in teams, devising mortgage-based securities — billions of dollars’ worth — that were examined by lawyers, approved by management, then sold to investors like hedge funds, commercial banks and insurance companies.

At one trading desk sat Fabrice Tourre, a midlevel 28-year-old Frenchman who was little known not just outside Goldman but even inside the firm. That changed three years later, in 2010, when he achieved the dubious distinction of becoming the only individual at Goldman and across Wall Street sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for helping to sell a mortgage-securities investment, in one of the hundreds of mortgage deals created during the bubble years.

The SEC began prosecution

In the fall of 2009, when Mr. Tourre learned that he had become a target of investigators for helping to sell a mortgage security called Abacus, he protested that he had not acted alone.

That fall, his lawyers drafted private responses to the S.E.C., maintaining that Mr. Tourre was part of a “collaborative effort” at Goldman, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The lawyer added that the commission’s view of his role “would have Mr. Tourre engaged in a grand deception of practically everyone” involved in the mortgage deal.

Current NYC councilman (and former NY Attorney General) G. Oliver Koppell is quoted “it’s impossible that only one person was involved with fraudulent activities in connection to the sales of these mortgage securities,”  

So why did the SEC do it?  Great unanswered question that the expose demands answers for.  If the SEC won't do it, the mystery laptop should provide enough impetus for others, including current AG Eric Schneiderman, as it explores the legal defense effort for Mr. Tourre.... he doesn't want or deserve to be the fall guy, however deserved his prosecution and punishment.

In their Oct. 10 response to the S.E.C., Mr. Tourre’s lawyers, including Pamela Chepiga of Allen & Overy, made an argument that they have not emphasized publicly. They contended that “singling Mr. Tourre out for criticism regarding the content of this clearly collaborative effort is unreasonable.”

These legal replies, which are not public, were provided to The New York Times by Nancy Cohen, an artist and filmmaker in New York also known as Nancy Koan, who says she found the materials in a laptop she had been given by a friend in 2006.

The friend told her he had happened upon the laptop discarded in a garbage area in a downtown apartment building. E-mail messages for Mr. Tourre continued streaming into the device, but Ms. Cohen said she had ignored them until she heard Mr. Tourre’s name in news reports about the S.E.C. case.  She then provided the material to The Times. Mr. Tourre’s lawyer did not respond to an inquiry for comment.

Too bad we have to hope for a couple more Wall Street laptops to fall into the hands of reporters around DC and NY and give their newspapers and mags something to write about.

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