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A former Goldman Sachs investment banker has been sentenced to three years in US prison for insider trading and obstruction of justice in a case in which he was accused of passing sensitive market information to his squash partner.
Brijesh Goel was accused of colluding with Akshay Niranjan, a New York-based trader at Barclays, to trade on information Goel gleaned from his work as a vice-president at Goldman’s financing group inside its investment bank. He was convicted following a seven-day trial earlier this year.
“If you try to cheat the system by engaging in insider trading, you will be punished, and if you try to cover your tracks while under investigation, you only make matters worse,” US attorney Damian Williams said in a statement on Wednesday announcing Goel’s sentencing.
Prosecutors said Goel would regularly receive emails containing non-public information about transactions that Goldman was considering financing and working on, with explicit warnings against insider trading.
In 2017, the day after receiving a Goldman email about the bank being invited by EQT to provide financing for a potential acquisition of Lumos Networks, Goel texted Niranjan, “Let’s play Squash after work”, according to the complaint. That evening he allegedly suggested his friend purchase call options in Lumos.
The next day, Goel texted his friend to ask “Did you book the court?” which US prosecutors alleged was code to find out if he had purchased the call options, court filings stated.
Prosecutors claimed that the two men swapped market-sensitive information on several occasions at the New York Health and Racquet Club. The scheme yielded profits of about $280,000 from at least six deals in which Goldman was involved in 2017 and 2018, they said.
Prosecutors also alleged that Goel in 2022 obstructed investigations by a grand jury in the Southern District of New York and the US Securities and Exchange Commission by deleting text messages regarding the insider trading scheme. He was also accused of asking Niranjan to delete text messages during a face-to-face meeting that Niranjan recorded.
Goldman had previously described the insider trading allegations by the government as “egregious and illegal conduct”.
Goel had joined Apollo Global Management from Goldman in 2021 as principal on the firm’s structured finance team but was placed on indefinite leave following the insider trading allegations.
Goel and Niranjan were sued in a separate civil lawsuit brought by the SEC, but Niranjan was not charged in the criminal case. Niranjan reached a consent decree with the regulator without admitting or denying the allegations last year.
https://www.ft.com/content/2cd2cb84-fac0-4d1a-99c8-45b9ce7c4f50 Ex-Goldman banker sentenced to 3 years for insider trading with squash partner