By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK, Dec 6 (Reuters) - Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc trader Matthew Taylor was sentenced to serve nine months in prison and pay $118 million in restitution to his former employer after he pleaded guilty to pursuing an unauthorized $8.3 billion futures trade in 2007.
U.S. District Judge William Pauley imposed the sentence in New York federal court on Friday, eight months after Taylor turned himself in to federal authorities and admitted to wire fraud.
The sentence was well below the 33- to 41-month term recommended by prosecutors, and the roughly eight to 10 years that Pauley said federal guidelines would suggest given the size of Goldman’s losses. Taylor had sought no prison time.
Prosecutors claimed Taylor lied to supervisors and fabricated trades in December 2007 to conceal an $8.3 billion position in Standard & Poor’s 500 e-mini futures contracts, which bet on the direction of that index. Goldman fired him shortly thereafter.
The bank had sought the $118 million to cover its losses on the trade, a request that the U.S. Department of Justice supported, though it is unlikely that Goldman will collect.
Taylor, a married father of two has moved to Florida, where he and his wife have started a pool cleaning business.
“We’ve tried to rebuild our lives far from Wall Street,” Taylor, who turns 35 on Jan. 1, told Pauley.
The defendant was previously fined $500,000 by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
In sentencing Taylor, Pauley also found fault with Goldman and the federal government, asking why regulators waited so long to go after Taylor, and why Goldman didn’t do more than simply fire the trader in 2007.
The case is a “paradigm of everything that is wrong with Wall Street and the regulators charged with protecting the public,” Pauley said.
Spokespeople for Goldman and for the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York did not immediately comment on Pauley’s remarks.
Goldman itself paid a $1.5 million civil fine last December to settle CFTC charges that it failed to adequately supervise Taylor.
The case is U.S. v. Taylor, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-cr-00251.