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Ex-Goldman Sachs trader’s defense is fantasy, US says

Goldman staffer duped investors, SEC alleges

Former Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre (left), shown leaving federal court in New York Tuesday, knew that a portfolio backed by subprime mortgages was designed to fail, the government argues — and pay him a bonus if it did.

Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Former Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre (left), shown leaving federal court in New York Tuesday, knew that a portfolio backed by subprime mortgages was designed to fail, the government argues — and pay him a bonus if it did.

NEW YORK — A former Goldman Sachs vice president is trying to draw jurors into a ‘‘fantasy world’’ to fend off accusations he violated securities laws, a government lawyer said.

But a defense attorney countered that prosecutors had wrongfully accused his client in the case, which grew from the collapse of the housing market six years ago.

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The jury, sitting in a federal court in Manhattan, was expected to begin deliberations Wednesday, following a day of summations on Tuesday in the case against Fabrice Tourre.

The three-week civil trial stems from allegations the Securities and Exchange Commission made in 2010 against him and Goldman Sachs. It has been called the most significant legal action related to the mortgage securities crisis, which helped push the country into a recession.

SEC lawyer Matthew Martens told jurors that Tourre, who came to the United States from France in 2000 to study at Stanford University, used ‘‘lies and trickery and deceit’’ to dupe investors — and the jury — into believing that a package of securities based on subprime mortgages was built to be profitable.

Martens said Tourre hid the fact that the hedge fund Paulson & Co. and its billionaire president, John A. Paulson, were poised to make $1 billion if the mortgages that Paulson helped choose for the portfolio failed. He said that Goldman Sachs stood to make millions in fees, and Tourre, who earned $1.7 million in 2007, could earn bonuses with the failure of the investment.

‘‘We proved it, just as we said we would,’’ Martens said, citing documents that he argued ‘‘can’t tell lies.’’

He said that witnesses can tell lies, and that ‘‘when it came to lies from the witness stand, Mr. Tourre took the cake.’’

Tourre testified over three days that he did not intend to mislead anyone.

Martens called his testimony ‘‘surreal, imaginary, unreal, dreamlike’’ and said that Tourre wanted jurors ‘‘to live in his imaginary land . . . to live in a fantasy world.’’

‘‘Only if you close your eyes to the facts,’’ Martens said, ‘‘you can find Mr. Tourre not liable for his actions.’’

Tourre’s attorney, John Coffey, said the government had ‘‘unjustly accused him of wrongdoing.’’

He urged jurors to see the investment’s failure in perspective, noting that all similarly packaged securities ‘‘went off the cliff, as well’’ after 2007.

In July 2010, Goldman Sachs settled charges against it and agreed to pay $550 million. The bank still faces private litigation.

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