Even if Goldman Sachs doesn't end up being found guilty of what the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges in its recent complaint (.pdf), one thing is for sure: the bank can't be pleased with the negative publicity. At the center of the sleazy-looking deal is the only other defendant in the case, a young Goldman banker named Fabrice Tourre. At first, Goldman appeared to have its employee's back, implying that no one at the firm did anything wrong. Since then, however, Tourre has been put on indefinite paid leave and de-registered in the U.K. He will soon have to testify before the U.S. Senate. Goldman can't be too pleased with his antics.
Tourre was clearly a rising star at Goldman Sachs -- a vice president by the time he was 28 and an executive director at 31. Obtaining those titles at such a young age is no small feat at any investment bank, much the less Goldman. There's little doubt that he's a very smart guy who made some extremely dumb mistakes. Even if he ends up being absolved of technically breaking the law, Tourre can still serve as an example to other young professionals of how not to act in business.
Take Your Job Seriously
Tourre probably thought he took his job pretty seriously. But he was clearly suffering from poor judgment or immaturity when he sent a now infamous e-mail from his work account to a friend, part of which read:
More and more leverage in the system, The whole building is about to collapse anytime now...Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab[rice Tourre]...standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstruosities!!!
It's fine to think this to oneself. It's probably even fine to jokingly say that to a friend in a bar (just don't get so drunk you leave your top-secret iPhone prototype there). It's not fine to write this in an e-mail from your work address. Even if the SEC had never brought charges against Goldman, a supervisor should have been displeased with such an e-mail sent from an address ending with @gs.com.