By Jody Godoy
(Reuters) – A former Goldman Sachs banker was convicted of insider trading by a New York jury on Wednesday, after prosecutors said he passed tips about potential mergers to a friend.
At the trial that began in Manhattan on June 12, prosecutors said Brijesh Goel, a former Goldman Sachs vice president, tipped his friend Akshay Niranjan to deals the bank was considering funding in 2017 and 2018. He was convicted on four counts of securities fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Goel, flanked by his lawyers, looked down as the verdict was read.
Prosecutors said Goel gleaned the information on six companies targeted for deals – including Spirit Airlines and drugmaker Patheon – from internal Goldman emails, and then tipped Niranjan over games of squash.
Goel took the stand in his own defense during the trial and denied that he shared confidential information about the transactions. His attorneys said Niranjan had framed Goel to cover his own trades.
Niranjan, who cooperated with prosecutors as part of a non-prosecution agreement, testified at the trial that he traded on information he received from Goel and agreed to split around $280,000 in profits.
Prosecutors agreed not to charge him in exchange for his cooperation in the case, which included secretly recording conversations where Goel urged him to delete text messages.
The case was one of several U.S. Attorney Damien Williams announced last summer as part of an insider trading crackdown.
Goel is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 19. His attorneys declined to comment on the verdict.
Any sentence would be imposed by the judge based on several factors.
The fraud and obstruction charges carry maximum sentences of 20 years. The average sentence in federal fraud, theft and embezzlement cases in the U.S. last year was 22 months in prison.
The case is U.S. v. Goel, No. 22-00396, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.
(Reporting by Jody Godoy in New York; Editing by Jamie Freed)