New York, Oct 30 (IANS) Two Indian Americans have been caught on the opposite sides of the fence. One was the poster boy of Wall Street, the other the “New Sheriff” of New York’s financial district.
Kolkata-born IITian and Harvard Business School graduate Rajat Gupta, 62, was one of the most respected business executives with a resume to envy and connections in high places – until the other Indian, Ferozepur-born Preet Bharara, pointed an accusing finger at him.
Gupta, former head of prestigious consultancy McKinsey & Co and director of Goldman Sachs and Proctor & Gamble, was among the invitees at President Barack Obama’s the state dinner for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House.
Bharara, a high-profile lawyer handpicked by Obama in 2009 as US attorney for the Southern District of New York to clean up Wall Street, has a string of other successes too besides sending former hedge fund tycoon Raj Rajaratnam to prison for 11 years.
Of the 51 who have pleaded guilty or have been convicted for swapping illegal tips were two of Rajaratnam’s Wharton School Indian American classmates, McKinsey’s Anil Kumar and Intel’s Rajiv Goel, on whose testimony the prosecution’s case mainly rested.
As late as two weeks before Rajaratnam was sentenced, he was still being asked by the government to turn on Gupta, the jailed Galleon hedge Fund founder claimed in an interview with Newsweek.
“They wanted me to plea-bargain. They want to get Rajat. I am not going to do what people did to me. Rajat has four daughters,” he said referring to Gupta as a “first-class guy.”
“The enforcer of Wall Street” as the Fortune magazine called him, also bagged the convictions of Times Square bomber Faisel Shahzad and multiple corrupt New York politicians to accused arms trafficker Victor Bout.
But by all accounts prosecuting Gupta for allegedly providing insider tips to his Sri Lankan Tamil friend would be a new “challenge”, as the New York Times put it, to a high stakes “gamble” and “a game of poker” as the Wall Street Journal saw it.
“Wiretaps of Rajaratnam played a key role in his own conviction, but whether they will be admissible in court against Gupta will be a key point that could tip the balance of the case,” the Times said.
Even if prosecutors can use some of the wiretaps, proving that Gupta received some type of benefit will be crucial to the case “because without it there is no tipper liability for insider trading,”
“If Rajat Gupta Is An Inside Trader Maybe You Are, Too,” said the prestigious Time magazine wondering “What did Gupta gain from this? Nothing. Nothing but grief, anyway.”
“As Gupta’s lawyer Gary Naftalis points out, “he did not trade in any securities, did not tip Rajaratnam so he could trade, and did not share in any profits as part of any quid pro quo.”