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Gupta seeks probation on insider trading charges

October 18, 2012 09:30 IST

LawbooksGoldman Sachs' India-born former director Rajat Gupta is seeking a sentence of probation accompanied by 'rigorous' community service, according to court documents submitted by his lawyer a week before a federal judge in New York sentences him on his conviction on insider trading charges.

In a 99-page sentencing memorandum submitted in federal court on Thursday, Gupta's lawyer Gary Naftalis requested that the 'court impose a sentence of probation with the condition that Gupta perform a rigorous full-time program of community service.'

The offers for community service involve working with homeless and runaway youth as well as 'a less orthodox but innovative proposal' of living in the backward districts of Rwanda and working with the local  government on health care initiatives with particular focus on HIV/AIDS and malaria and agricultural development.

Gupta, 63, will be sentenced on October 24 in Manhattan federal court by US District Judge Jed Rakoff for his conviction on three counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy.

The securities fraud carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and the conspiracy carries a five-year jail term.

Gupta's sentencing comes exactly a year after Manhattan's top federal attorney India-born Preet Bharara filed insider trading charges against the  former McKinsey head.

Naftalis cited previous court verdicts and said courts have recognised that in an appropriate case, "and if used wisely, probation is sufficiently serious punishment to satisfy the statutory mandate that the sentence reflect the seriousness of the offense and provide just punishment."

Naftalis said while Gupta is prepared to undertake any community service the court considers appropriate, he offered two specific programmes that Gupta could undertake.

Naftalis said Gupta could work with Covenant House, which provides emergency shelter and other services for homeless, runaway and at risk youth.

"Gupta would provide direct services to these children at Covenant House's New York site, including working as part of the intake team at the Crisis Center, and assisting participants in the transitional living program known as 'Rights of Passage' and in job training.

"In addition, he would assist Covenant House in developing a plan to implement a set of strategic initiatives for the organisation."

The second offer for community services involves Gupta living in the rural districts of Rwanda and working with government officials and humanitarian organization CARE USA to help implement the country's initiative to improve delivery of health care (with a particular focus on HIV/AIDS and  malaria) and agricultural development.

"We recognise this is an unusual community service proposal, but one that could potentially provide great benefits to large numbers of Rwandans desperately in need of help, and which Gupta is uniquely situated to perform.

"Moreover, it would require Gupta to confront significant hardships and would thus constitute punishment  commensurate with the seriousness of the offense, as Gupta would be thousands of miles from his family and friends, and would be living in basic accommodations in rural areas of the country.

"A federal jury had found Gupta guilty of leaking board room secrets of Goldman Sachs to his friend and business associate hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, including information about a five billion investment by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in September 2008 and a tip on a quarterly loss.

The jury had acquitted him of two charges that he leaked information that Cincinnati-based P&G's organic sales growth would fall below estimates and that he tipped Rajaratnam about Goldman Sachs's earnings in the first quarter of 2007.

Gupta is the most high profile Wall Street executive to be convicted in the government's crackdown on insider trading.

Rajaratnam is currently serving an 11 year prison term after bing convicted last year.

Naftalis said while white-collar offenses are 'gravely serious' and demand 'considerable punishment,' the court has previously found that 'probation and home detention could accomplish the goals of punishment more effectively than imprisonment and that not all defendants must be sentenced to imprisonment to be duly punished.'

Yoshita Singh in New York
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