Gupta to face charges over Goldman data

Rajat Gupta, senior partner emeritus at McKinsey and Company, as pictured at the World Economic Forum on January 28, 2010, in Davos, Switzerland.

Story highlights

  • Gupta attorney calls any allegation of unlawful conduct "totally baseless"
  • Attorney: Gupta "lost his entire investment" in the fund managed by Rajaratnam
  • Prosecutors are expected to allege Gupta tipped Rajaratnam
  • Allegations of Gupta's insider trading among those at center of Rajaratnam trial
Rajat Gupta, the former head of McKinsey, will face criminal charges as soon as Wednesday for allegedly passing Goldman Sachs earnings data to Raj Rajaratnam, the hedge fund manager, while serving on the bank's board, people familiar with the matter say.
Gupta is expected to voluntarily surrender to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on Wednesday morning, these people say, with the charges expected to be announced by U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan.
Gary Naftalis, attorney for Gupta, said any allegation that Gupta engaged in any unlawful conduct was "totally baseless."
Naftalis said Gupta 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.
He added that there were legitimate reasons for any communications between Gupta and Rajaratnam -- including Gupta's attempt to obtain information regarding his $10M investment in the GB Voyager fund managed by Rajaratnam. He said Gupta "lost his entire investment in the fund at the time of the events in question, negating any motive to deviate from a lifetime of probity and distinguished service."
Gupta's lawyer called the allegations baseless when they were first made by the Securities and Exchange Commission in an administrative proceeding earlier this year that was later dropped.
Prosecutors are expected to allege that Gupta tipped Rajaratnam, founder of Galleon Group, about a $5B injection of capital from Warren Buffett during the height of the financial crisis and the bank's first quarterly earnings loss as a public company in late 2008, these people say.
The two men met last decade after Rajaratnam made a donation to the Indian School of Business, an institution Gupta founded. Their friendship turned into a business partnership and they started a private investment firm initially called Taj Capital and later renamed New Silk Route.
The allegations of Gupta's insider trading were among those at the center of Rajaratnam's trial. Prosecutors labeled Gupta a co-conspirator but had not charged him with any wrongdoing.
During the trial, prosecutors presented phone records that showed Gupta called Rajaratnam 23 seconds after a board meeting where Goldman directors were told that the bank would report its first loss as a public company.
When the stock market opened the next day, Rajaratnam began selling his stake in Goldman. On a secretly recorded phone call, Rajaratnam is heard telling a Galleon employee in Singapore: "I heard yesterday from somebody who's on the board of Goldman Sachs that they are gonna lose $2 a share. The Street has them making $2.50."
The criminal charges will end months of speculation.
In March, the SEC filed civil fraud charges against Gupta on the eve of Rajaratnam's trial, alleging he tipped Rajaratnam about Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble earnings while serving on the companies' boards.
Gupta countersued, claiming the SEC treated him unfairly by suing him in an administrative proceeding and outside federal court where two dozen others had been charged with insider trading. A federal judge agreed and the SEC dropped its case but said at the time it remained "fully committed to the case".
The 62-year-old Gupta spent his career at McKinsey after graduating from Harvard Business School. He was elected as its first non-American managing director in 1994 and enjoyed several terms leading the firm.
He also served as a senior adviser to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and as a special adviser to the United Nations, as well as a senior adviser at KKR, the hedge fund firm co-founded by Henry Kravis.
At his trial, Rajaratnam was heard on tape remarking about Gupta: "My analysis of the situation is he's enamored with Kravis, and I think he wants to be in that circle," Rajaratnam said. "That's a billionaire circle, right?"