Ex-Goldman banker gets three years in prison for insider trading

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former Goldman Sachs investment banker was sentenced on Wednesday in Manhattan to three years in prison, after being convicted of passing tips about potential mergers that the Wall Street bank was working on.

Brijesh Goel, 39, who had been a Goldman vice president, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan federal court.

Goel was convicted in June on four counts of securities fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

Prosecutors had sought a prison term of about 3-1/2 years.

Goel had asked to be sentenced to time served, followed by immediate deportation to India.

He grew up in Gurugram, a Delhi suburb, and moved to the United States after getting married in 2014.

Lawyers for Goel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Prosecutors said Goel tipped his friend Akshay Niranjan about at least six potential mergers in which Goldman was involved in 2017 and 2018, including a takeover of Spirit Airlines and T-Mobile's purchase of Sprint.

Goel allegedly learned the information from internal Goldman emails and passed the tips while playing squash.

Prosecutors said he also obstructed a federal grand jury and the Securities and Exchange Commission by asking Niranjan to delete text messages about the scheme, which generated about $280,000 of profits.

Niranjan testified against Goel as part of an agreement to avoid being prosecuted himself.

Goel's sentence also includes three years of supervised release, a $75,000 fine, an $85,000 forfeiture, and restitution to be determined later.

The defendant's lawyers had argued that a lengthy prison term overstated the gravity of the offense.

They also said deportation, "along with all of the other life-shattering penalties already inflicted on Mr. Goel, consequences that he himself acknowledges he brought upon himself," was sufficient punishment.

The case is U.S. v. Goel, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 22-cr-00396.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)