India-born former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta, who served a two-year prison term on insider trading charges, has admitted that he made “errors and misjudgements” and apologised for letting his friends and fellow IIT associates down. In one of his first public comments on his insider trading conviction after completing his prison term in March last year, Gupta told an IIT alumni to meet in California he regrets that five years of his life were taken away from him and he hopes to tell his side of the story “in due course” once his appeal is decided upon. “While I continue to fight the injustice in my case, I have to candidly admit that I made errors and misjudgements and for that I take full responsibility,” Gupta said, addressing the second annual ‘IIT Bay Area Leadership Conference’ held in Santa Clara last month that was hosted by the 11000-member strong IIT Bay Area Alumni Association and attended by hundreds of top executives and entrepreneurs who had graduated from the prestigious Indian engineering institution.
Gupta, an IIT Delhi and Harvard Business School alumnus, expressed regret for failing to be a role model to the scores of young people in leading institutions he was associated with, including IIT, Harvard, Indian School of Business, McKinsey and Gates Foundation. “They made me who I am and I was also fortunate enough to play a leadership role that shaped many of these institutions but most importantly I aspired to be a role model for many of the young people who were part of these institutions, who looked up to me. “One of my greatest regrets is I did let them down. I want to apologise to all of you at IIT alumni that I really did not live up to the highest standards you would have rightly expected me to do. I genuinely ask for your forgiveness and understanding,” Gupta said as the audience applauded. Gupta expressed “regret” that five years of his life were taken away from him when he could have used them to contribute to philanthropic causes such as education and health.
Sounding a philosophical tone, Gupta said the last five years that were consumed by his insider trading case and his prison term have made him a “better person and better able to serve the institutions I so dearly like”. “During this time I saw the underbelly of our justice system, endured imprisonment and eight weeks of solitary confinement but very importantly got to know who my real friends are. “I learnt a lot and was determined to come out of this experience a better person, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I wanted to deal with this situation with dignity, with grace, with forgiveness and humility, without anger or bitterness,” he said. Describing the last six years of his life as “extraordinary”, the former McKinsey head said he believes that life is a series of experiences and “nothing is inherently good or bad. It is what you make of it”.
Gupta, convicted in 2012 after a jury trial, is a free man now but is not giving up his legal battle to overturn his conviction, arguing in court papers that he served two years in jail for conduct that is not criminal as the government lacked evidence to show he “received even a penny” for passing confidential boardroom information to the now-jailed hedge fund manager and his one-time friend and business associate Raj Rajaratnam.