By Ashima Gujral:
The recent news of an honourable man falling prey to insider trading, the most common crime in the stock market world, has left everyone baffled. Rajat Gupta, an Indian American businessman was convicted in June, 2012 on charges of insider trading. Finally on the 24th of October, 2012, he was sentenced to two years in prison with a fine of $5 million.
A mechanical engineer from IIT Delhi and an MBA degree holder from Harvard Business School, Rajat Gupta rose to fame as the head of McKinsey & Company and took the firm to great heights. Also, his philanthropic efforts and volunteerism, focusing on education, global health and business led him to be considered as one of the highly respected global figures before this incident occurred.Rajat Gupta’s trial began on May 22nd, 2012 and on June 15th, 2012, he was found guilty on three counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy.
But what do we learn from all of this? ‘With great power, comes great responsibility’. The old saying fits aptly in this case. A man of such high esteem, commanding a lot of power was “entrusted by some of the premier institutions of American business to sit inside their boardrooms, among their executives and directors, and receive their confidential information so that he could give advice and counsel.”-as per Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
The question that arises here is that are all the professionals equally capacitated to commit wrongdoings such as these? If yes, then what is it that leads most of them to follow the code of ethics and some others to simply break the rules? Friendship or professional and monetary gains – what is it that leads them to this wrong path? Or is it the fact that a crime like insider trading is a highly calculated risk? Since it is very difficult to detect and prove and the accused can be given the benefit of doubt due to lack of evidence. So is it a gain v/s the chances of being caught scenario, where the heavier side wins?
Whatever be the case, what the man has ultimately suffered is humiliation and disrespect. Not just him, his family has had to bear the brunt of his misdeeds. Even though his imprisonment has been lessened due to his philanthropic efforts in the past, yet this mistake has caught him severely.
If another point of view is taken into account, man is meant to make mistakes. But are all of those unforgivable? Yes, Rajat Gupta will serve his punishment and pay the fine, but should he really be forgiven after that? Or should blunders as big as these be allowed to haunt the man forever and make him feel shameful in the public eye? These questions will remain forever unanswered and only the conscience of the person can really answer that.
To conclude, Rajat Gupta has been given the sentence which is sufficient for his offence and enough to make the rest of the people in a position like his feel a threat before they think of committing such an act.