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Forum Post: Dear Judge, White-Collar Criminal Is a Good Man

Posted 8 years ago on Oct. 14, 2012, 7:47 p.m. EST by bojangles66 (1)
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Michael Rothfield, "Dear Judge, Gupta Is a Good Man," Wall Street Journal, Oct. 13, 2012, B1

Rajat Gupta, the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS -1.47% director convicted of insider trading, has lost his powerful spots on corporate boards, his reputation and likely his freedom when a judge sentences him later this month.

But Mr. Gupta, 63 years old, still has plenty of powerful backers, including Bill Gates and Kofi Annan, and they are lining up to support him with letters to the judge.

Enlarge Image image image United Nations/Bloomberg News

OLD FRIENDS: Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, right, is among those supporting Rajat Gupta.

Mr. Gates, co-founder of Microsoft Corp., MSFT +0.86% and Mr. Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations, are among those who have written letters to U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff on Mr. Gupta's behalf.

More than 200 letters have been sent to the judge through Mr. Gupta's lawyers ahead of the Oct. 24 sentencing, according to the submissions, which were examined by The Wall Street Journal.

"I know most personally that the poor of the world have a profoundly capable and articulate advocate in Rajat Gupta," wrote Mr. Gates, who worked with Mr. Gupta when the latter served as chair of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Mr. Gates wrote that he was "not in a position to comment on any of the particulars of the case against him," but wanted to lend his voice "to round out Rajat's profile."

Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Gates declined to comment on his letter. Video From the Archive

Reed Albergotti joins Mean Street with the latest on the conviction of Rajat Gupta of insider trading, capping the fall of the most prominent figure caught in the government's drive to stop the leaking of corporate secrets to Wall Street.

Mr. Gupta was convicted in June of giving hedge-fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, his friend and business associate, inside information about Goldman's financial results and an investment by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s BRKB -0.52% Warren Buffett during the financial crisis. Prosecutors said Mr. Rajaratnam's hedge fund made millions based on Mr. Gupta's tips, while Mr. Gupta, also a former director at Procter & Gamble Co., PG -0.09% benefited from the leaks because of their friendship and mutual business interests.

Prosecutors are likely to argue that federal sentencing guidelines dictate a term for Mr. Gupta that could exceed 10 years, based on the illicit trading gains by Mr. Rajaratnam's fund. But the guidelines are advisory, and Judge Rakoff usually hands down less than they suggest.

Mr. Rajaratnam, the founder of hedge fund Galleon Group, was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison, one of the longest sentences ever imposed for insider trading.

Mr. Gupta, the former head of McKinsey & Co., the global corporate consulting firm, was active in the philanthropic and charitable communities in the U.S., in his native India and other countries. Letters from his supporters include those from leaders of companies, academics and Wall Street figures.

His family also wrote to the judge, including his wife, four daughters and an 84-year-old aunt in India.

Mr. Annan began his letter, "My name is Kofi Annan, and I was Secretary General of the United Nations from 1997-2006." He said Mr. Gupta worked on many projects with him. "I came to respect his judgment, and we became good friends." On one of the projects, management reform at the U.N., Mr. Gupta was an adviser.

Mr. Annan couldn't be reached for comment on his letter.

It is common for defendants to ask friends, family and prominent figures they may have encountered in their lives to write letters on their behalf to the court ahead of sentencing.

Defense lawyers routinely cite such letters at sentencing in hopes of providing a fuller picture of a defendant beyond the crime they've been convicted of committing, particularly when it comes to a defendant's charitable works.

When former star technology banker Frank Quattrone was sentenced in 2004, more than 400 letters were written by friends, family and business colleagues seeking leniency, including top executives at more than a half-dozen technology companies.

Mr. Quattrone's conviction on obstruction-of-justice charges was overturned in 2006 and he agreed to a deferred prosecution agreement to avoid a third trial in the matter.

Mr. Gupta's submissions include letters from a class of luminaries not often seen at sentencing, but reflective of those he associated with as a top executive at McKinsey and through the philanthropic causes he supported.

Mr. Gupta's lawyers had hoped to present evidence at trial of his charitable giving in hopes of overcoming a perception that he was motivated by greed, calling him a renowned "humanitarian." However, Judge Rakoff limited the discussion of Mr. Gupta's charitable works at the trial.

The letters in support of Mr. Gupta were made available for inspection under an order by Judge Rakoff in response to a request by The Wall Street Journal with the consent of prosecutors and Mr. Gupta's defense. Small portions were redacted for reasons of privacy.

Ajit Jain, a top Berkshire Hathaway executive and possible successor to Mr. Buffett, testified as a defense witness by videotape at the trial.

Mr. Jain, who is a friend of Mr. Gupta's, said in his letter to the judge that the impression of Mr. Gupta at his trial of someone who abused his position "for personal gain or aggrandizement" is "wholly inconsistent with the character of the man I know."

"On no occasion of our meetings did Rajat ever seek to inappropriately obtain or leverage information," he wrote, adding that Mr. Gupta "has already paid a terrible price" and "been disgraced personally and professionally."

Mr. Jain declined to comment on his letter.

Friends, I suggest that we all write letters to Judge Jed Rakoff to remind him that in fact Mr. Gupta is not a good man. Mr. Gupta has been found guilty by a jury of his peers of a serious crime. Mr. Gupta's punishment should be in accord with the seriousness of his crime.

If you are inclined to write to the Judge his address is as follows:

Honorable Jed. S. Rakoff Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse 500 Pearl St. New York, NY 10007-1312



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