Friday, May 31, 2013

Playing Rajat Gupta

 I've followed developments and written earlier about Rajat Gupta in March 2011in May 2012, and in July 2012.  The essence of my views has been:
a) Rajat's alleged insider tip-offs are out of character with the person I had come to know.
b) His heavy contributions to society and humanity far outweigh his alleged transgressions.
c) His insider leaks if true also pale in comparison to the misdeeds of typical hedge fund managers and other Wall Street players who are never caught or whose dishonest acts aren't technically crimes.
d) Even if he revealed secrets they could have been pried or deduced through wily questions by Rajaratnam.  Our Indian culture and ethos can make it seem impolite and difficult to completely clam up when a friend asks a direct question about a confidential matter.

 More light has been shed on the last point in a May 17 article in the New York Times that has pieced together the story of how he was manipulated by hedge fund titan (and crook) Rajaratnam.  This piece is well researched and dispassionate, providing insights into how Rajat could have landed in the mess that he's in.
Even the trial Judge Rakoff at the time of sentencing acknowledged that Rajat is "undoubtedly a good man".  In an interview (Fortune, Jan 24, '13) he stated without going into the specifics that he takes a defendants good deeds into account in his judgements.

[An aside: Though I think highly of judge Rakoff a point where I'd take issue with him as a financial purist is in his characterizing Rajat's tip-offs as “the functional equivalent of stabbing Goldman in the back.”  Actually, insider "buy" trades do not damage the firm whose shares are traded.  They instead discriminate against outside prospective buyers who are preceded by the inside trader and lose some of the fair chance to be "lucky" before share prices rise.  Of course that still makes insider trading wrong and it is rightly outlawed as it affects the integrity of the markets.]

Rajat continues to maintain he's not guilty as he appeals his conviction and sentencing, and  I continue to root for him.  Back to the Times article it speculates that an unfortunate Rajat was played by a "boorish" Rajaratnam and it reads somewhat like a Shakespearean tragedy.  As the future unfolds I'd like Rajat to have a happier ending.