The high-profile Insider trading trial of former McKinsey head Rajat Gupta pitted him against another Indian-American New York’s top federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, who in the end walked away winning his battle against corporate America’s poster boy.
Gupta, 63, is one of most prominent Wall Street executives in a list of 66 traders against whom Bharara has led a legal battle. Of these 66 people who were charged with insider trading crimes by Bharara since 2009, 60 have either pleaded guilty or have been found guilty.
The insider trading trial, which began on May 21, had set the stage for a courtroom showdown between the two India-born and Harvard educated US citizens who are prominent figures in the South Asian community in New York.
Ferozepur-born Bharara was named by TIME magazine earlier this year as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Kolkata-born Gupta’s rise in corporate America had been stellar and enviable. Orphaned at 18, Gupta received an engineering degree from the elite Indian Institute of Technology. He earned a scholarship to Harvard Business School, graduating top of his class and securing a coveted posting at McKinsey.
He went on to being elected at age 45 to run McKinsey, becoming the first non-American-born executive to head the consulting giant.
“I know consensus says McKinsey is white and traditional, but I am testimony to the fact that image isn’t true,” Gupta had said in a 1994 profile in The Chicago Tribune.
“If anything, it’s a meritocracy.”
Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York had not minced words last October when the charges were filed against Gupta and said the top Wall Street executive was “entrusted” by some of the premier institutions of American business to sit inside their boardrooms and receive their confidential information so that he could give advice and counsel for the benefit of their shareholders.
“As alleged, he broke that trust and instead became the illegal eyes and ears in the boardroom for his friend and business associate, Raj Rajaratnam, who reaped enormous profits from Gupta’s breach of duty,” Bharara had said.
After the guilty verdict was announced against Gupta yesterday, Bharara said Gupta achieved remarkable success and stature, but he threw it all away. “Having fallen from respected insider to convicted inside trader, Gupta has now exchanged the lofty board room for the prospect of a lowly jail cell. Violating clear and sacrosanct duties of confidentiality, Gupta illegally provided a virtual open line into the board room for his benefactor and business partner, Raj Rajaratnam,” Bharara said.
Bharara, nominated to become US Attorney by President Barack Obama on May 15, 2009, has prosecuted organised crime, narcotics and securities fraud. He has shown himself to be a hard worker who has a self-deprecating wit and stays cool under pressure, Bharara’s former associates say. Bharara grew up in New Jersey’s Monmouth County and earned degrees from Harvard and Columbia Law School.
During Rajaratnam’s trial, Bharara would quietly enter the courtroom and take a seat in the last row of the gallery like he did in Gupta’s trial. “His consistent presence at the largest insider trading case in a generation — and the office’s resounding victory — signaled that the chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan was back as the sheriff of Wall Street,” the New York Times had said.