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New York - A former Goldman Sachs trader pleaded guilty to wire fraud Wednesday, admitting that an $8 billion position on a futures contract that cost the company $118 million was 10 times what he was allowed.
Matthew Marshall Taylor, 34, said he took the position on a contract traded electronically through the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in December 2007 to enhance his reputation and boost his earnings in a year when he made $150,000 in salary and $1.6 million in bonuses. At the time, he was working at Goldman Sachs in lower Manhattan.
U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III said he was miffed that the government was holding Taylor responsible for only up to $2.5 million in losses and was not urging the judge to enhance the eventual sentence for Taylor's use of sophisticated means to achieve a fraud or for endangering the financial health of Goldman Sachs. A prosecutor said he did not believe either enhancement was appropriate because Taylor carried out the fraud in a manner similar to his usual work patterns.
"The court's puzzled by the lack of any enhancements in this case with the loss of $118 million," Pauley said. "He created fictitious interactions and then lied about them for a period of time. I don't understand how that doesn't involve the use of sophisticated means."
Judges are entitled to enhance the potential prison sentence someone must serve if it can be shown that the defendant used sophisticated means to carry out a fraud.
"He cooked the books and that's not sophisticated?" Pauley asked.
Taylor was freed on $750,000 bond. He could face up to 20 years in prison at a July 19 sentencing.
Outside court, defense attorney Thomas C. Rotko said the "unfortunate events of 2007 were an aberration" for his client. He said Taylor "looks forward to putting these events behind him and resuming what otherwise was an exemplary life."
In November, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission said in a lawsuit that Taylor hid a trade that cost his employer more than $118 million.