A former vice president at Goldman Sachs was sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday for leaking confidential information about potential mergers and acquisitions involving the bank’s clients to his friend, who made more than $1.5 million in profits from trading on the tips.
Brijesh Goel, 38, was also ordered to forfeit $1.5 million and pay a $100,000 fine by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan, who rejected his plea for leniency and his request to be deported to India instead of serving time in the U.S.
“You betrayed your employer, you betrayed your profession, you betrayed the market, you betrayed the public,” Judge Rakoff told Goel at his sentencing.
Goel was convicted of insider trading and obstruction of justice in August after a two-week trial. He was accused of passing inside information about deals involving 12 companies, including Buffalo Wild Wings, SanDisk and Broadcom, to his friend Akshay Niranjan, a former investment banker who worked at a hedge fund.
Niranjan testified against Goel and avoided prosecution. He said he used the tips to make trades that netted him more than $1.5 million between 2016 and 2019. He also said he shared some of the profits with Goel through cash payments and gifts.
Goel also tried to cover up his crimes by deleting text messages and lying to the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission when they questioned him.
“I am deeply ashamed of my actions. I have no one to blame but myself,” Goel said in a letter to the judge before his sentencing. He said he was under financial stress and succumbed to temptation. He also said he wanted to return to India to be with his family and start a new life.
But Judge Rakoff said Goel’s conduct was not an isolated lapse in judgment, but rather a calculated scheme that spanned years. He said Goel deserved a significant prison term to deter others from engaging in insider trading.
“Mr. Goel’s conduct was not an isolated lapse in judgment, but rather a calculated scheme that spanned years,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Tracer said in a court filing.
Goel’s lawyer, Alexandra Shapiro, argued that Goel had cooperated with the government after his conviction and had shown remorse. She also said he had no criminal history and had contributed to society through his work and charity.
“He is not a criminal. He is a good man who made a terrible mistake,” Shapiro said in a court filing.
Niranjan also wrote a letter to the judge before Goel’s sentencing, expressing his gratitude for Goel’s cooperation and testimony.
“I am grateful for Mr. Goel’s cooperation and testimony, which helped me avoid prosecution and start a new life,” Niranjan said.
Goel is one of several former Goldman Sachs employees who have been charged or convicted of insider trading in recent years. In 2018, another former vice president at the bank, Woojae Jung, pleaded guilty to trading on confidential information about the bank’s clients. He was sentenced to three months in prison. In 2019, another former vice president, Bryan Cohen, pleaded guilty to tipping off a trader about pending deals involving Syngenta and Buffalo Wild Wings. He is awaiting sentencing.
– Ex-Goldman Banker Gets Three Years in Prison for Insider Trading, U.S. News, Nov. 1, 2023
– Ex-Goldman Banker Asks for No Jail Time on Insider Trading Conviction, Bloomberg, Oct. 19, 2023
– Goldman Banker Insider Trading Case : Seeks Deportation Over Prison, USA Herald, Oct. 19, 2023
– Former Investment Banker Sentenced To 36 Months For Insider Trading And Obstruction Of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, Nov. 1, 2023