Lawyers for insider trader in unusual bid for leniency

Lawyers for Rajat Gupta, the former McKinsey & Co chief and Goldman Sachs board member whose ascent to the pinnacle of corporate America was only matched by his precipitous fall after being convicted of leaking insider information earlier this year, have made an unusual plea for leniency as he prepares to hear his sentence from a Manhattan judge.

Prosecutors have asked Judge Jed Rakoff to consider an 8-10 year prison term after he was found guilty of leaking confidential details to the hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, himself convicted last year and sentenced to 11 years behind bars.

But ahead of the ruling from Judge Rakoff on 24 October, Gupta's defence team has pleaded for a more lenient sentence of probation and community service. Unusually, among the options they propose is a stint in Rwanda.

The lawyers claim that sending the former consulting boss, who was found guilty of leaking confidential information about Goldman Sachs to Rajaratnam, off to the African country would "constitute punishment commensurate with the seriousness" of his offence, as he would be "forced to confront significant hardships" while "thousands of miles from his family and friends". He would also, they said in the filing, "be living in basic accommodations in rural areas of the country".

The government thinks otherwise, with prospectors led by US district attorney Preet Bharara arguing that a significant jail term was warranted, both owing to the nature of Gupta's misdeeds and "to deter other corporate insiders in similar positions of trust from stealing corporate secrets and engaging in a crime that that has become far too common".

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