Convicted financial trader Fabrice Tourre has fled the United States and applied for political asylum in the Cayman Islands, local officials confirmed.
The former Goldman Sachs trader, who called himself Fabulous Fab, said he was the target of “a witch hunt” by the United States government and was “betrayed” for his role in a toxic-mortgage deal that cost investors about $1 billion, according to a statement released by Cayman Islands officials.
“My status as the only person at Goldman Sachs singled out for prosecution is proof that I am the victim of a witch hunt,” Tourre said. “My former bosses said they would pay my legal costs and that I had nothing to worry about. But none of them was put on trial alongside me, while I was portrayed by prosecutors as the face of Wall Street greed. I feel betrayed.”
Tourre, 34, was convicted last week on six counts of securities fraud for misleading investors in a subprime mortgage deal that he knew would fail, in a civil case brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Tourre’s conviction was hailed as a victory for the SEC, a federal regulatory body that has been accused of failing to investigate and prosecute Wall Street executives over the 2007-08 global financial crisis.
Tourre’s trial was seen as an embarrassment to Goldman Sachs, who paid his legal costs, since one count found that Tourre had aided and abetted the company in doing something wrong.
Tourre was scheduled to appear in court to face the penalties — which could have included heavy fines for each count — when he took an early Friday morning flight to the Cayman Islands from LaGuardia Airport.
“This conviction has given me no choice but to flee the United States and seek political asylum in the Cayman Islands, where financial workers are still treated with admiration and respect, and nobody asks any questions,” Tourre said.
“I don’t even understand how financial markets or these monstrosities like mortgage bonds work. Almost nobody does. I was just told that I would never be held accountable for anything and that I could lie and rip off anyone, widows and orphans included, as long as I made a profit for the company.
“I will only consider returning to the United States when I either receive a full pardon and apology. Or when I am no longer a scapegoat and other Wall Street traders and executives are put on trial under public scrutiny as I was.”
The Cayman Islands, a British territory in the Caribbean Sea, is one of the world’s largest centers for offshore international finance and a tax haven, with more registered businesses than people.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Justice Department said it would seriously consider trying to extradite Tourre if it got around to it.