Surprised when Preet Bharara said he didn’t know when Diwali was: Rajat Gupta on being charged on Diwali

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Published: April 1, 2019 1:23:37 PM

Bharara, then the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, had announced the unsealing of a six-count indictment against Gupta on October 26, 2011, on Hindu festival Diwali.

Rajat Gupta (File photo)

Former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta, who surrendered to the FBI on Diwali in 2011 after an indictment charging with insider trading was unsealed, says he finds it unbelievable when former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara remarked that he did not know when Diwali was as he brought the charges against him.

Bharara, then the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, had announced the unsealing of a six-count indictment against Gupta on October 26, 2011, on Hindu festival Diwali. Gupta had surrendered to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and appeared in federal district court earlier that day.

Bharara is understood to have said that he didn’t know it was Diwali when he was asked why he brought the charges against Gupta on Diwali. “I can tell you I don’t believe when he says he didn’t know when Diwali was.

That sounds not quite right,” Gupta, 70 said during a discussion at the book launch of his memoir ‘Mind Without Fear’ organised by leading arts and cultural organisation The Indo-American Arts Council (IAAC) here. He was responding to a question on India-born Bharara leading the prosecution against Gupta.

“I actually don’t honestly believe that in my case. I cannot go behind his mind to say what it was,” Gupta said. During the book discussion hosted by IAAC, Gupta spoke at length about his insider trading case, how he regrets not testifying at his trial and about his time in the federal prison in Ayer, Massachusetts.

“My life was turned upside down not when I lost the case but when I was charged. It was a much more dramatic moment actually when they brought charges against me,” Gupta said during the book launch. “Most of what one would value was lost then, in terms of either opportunities, reputation, whatever you can think of.” He said that even if he would have won the case, “much of the damage was already done,” adding that he would advise young people to be very careful about who they associate with and what they get involved in.

Gupta was sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty in 2012 of passing confidential boardroom information about Goldman Sachs to then hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, who is currently serving 11 years in prison for insider trading. Gupta and Rajaratnam were both incarcerated in the federal prison in Ayer. Gupta served 19 months in prison and was released in 2016. He says if his lawyers would have given the jury a reason to say not guilty they would have acquitted him.

“I also feel that the jury, many members of the jury were actually looking for a reason not to convict me. There were a number of jurors who were crying when they read the verdict. They didn’t want to convict me but they couldn’t, in a way, help it given how the prosecution and the defense fared,” Gupta said. He said it is his “own feeling” that the jury convicted him “very reluctantly.” He was acquitted of two counts of securities fraud.

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