Rajat Gupta had a great career at McKinsey & Company and he did a lot of philanthropy. It is this support of good causes that has helped him secure letters from powerful people to the U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff who tends to be rather lenient. Still, Rakoff will have to hand down an appropriate sentencing to discourage others.
There will be plenty of top-level executives watching the proceedings as Gupta was a major corporate figure. Mr. Gupta is in this position as he passed on some tips to Raj Rajaratnam who was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison for insider trading at his hedge fund the Galleon Group. A prison term isn't the only way that Gupta could pay as illustrated in the Rajaratnam case where the latter was fined $92.8 million because of his immense fortune.
Gupta has been found guilty of providing trading tips to Rajaratnam on Goldman Sachs on whose board he served. He also passed on information regarding a $5 billion investment by Berkshire Hathaway. Gupta has received letters of support to the Judge on his behalf from business leaders of the likes of Mukesh Ambani to Harvard professors who present Gupta as a good man.
Anyway, insider traders like Gupta are fairly lucky as their sentences are shorter than the expected 25 year terms. Furthermore, co-conspirator Rajiv Goel got away with just a two-year probation. Anil Kumar too got away easy with his lawyer painting a picture of an honorable man who got suckered by Rajaratnam.