July 5 (Bloomberg) — Rajat Gupta, the former McKinsey & Co. chief and pal of imprisoned inside trader Raj Rajaratnam, has one goal after being convicted last month of securities fraud: To convince federal Judge Jed Rakoff that he deserves minimal jail time.
There is a compelling public interest, after all, in keeping white-collar criminals on the street. The financial markets need liquidity, as any summer intern at a Washington lobbying firm can tell you, and we would be facing dark days if we lost our best talent at leaking confidential information. What good is a tipster in a place where high-frequency trading means swapping cigarettes for a batch of washed and folded laundry?
I don’t mean to suggest that his lawyers and throng of big- name business friends aren’t already doing a serviceable job of portraying Gupta as an honorable man who doesn’t belong in jail. Gupta’s lawyer, Gary P. Naftalis, pushed so hard to be allowed to tell the jurors about Gupta’s philanthropy that Rakoff had to offer a reminder: Even Mother Teresa would be judged on the evidence — but presumably not her saintliness — if charged with robbing a bank. And on the website www.friendsofrajat.com, a collection of supporters cite everything from Gupta’s role as a founding board member of the Global Fund for AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis to his selfless offer to pay for a friend’s son to go to college.
The effort to tout his charity and good heart is a respectable start for the former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. director. But it doesn’t go far enough.