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Squash partner lands ex-Goldman banker in prison for insider trading scheme

By Jake Beardslee · November 2, 2023

In brief…

  • Former Goldman banker Brijesh Goel sentenced to 3 years in prison for illegal trading scheme with friend
  • Profited $140,000 each by trading on illegal stock tips Goel passed during squash games
  • Goel argued he was set up, but judge said he lied repeatedly on the stand
  • Both bankers fired; Niranjan cooperated with prosecutors and wasn't charged
  • Goldman seeking $390,000 in restitution from Goel
A former Goldman Sachs investment banker was sentenced to 3 years in prison for illegally tipping off and profiting with his squash partner on nonpublic information about mergers and acquisitions.  2211473abhijithsaravanan/Wikimedia

A former Goldman Sachs investment banker was sentenced to 3 years in prison on Wednesday for illegally tipping off his squash partner about upcoming mergers and acquisitions, allowing them to make $280,000 in illegal profits.

Manhattan District Court Judge P. Kevin Castel handed down the sentence to 39-year-old Brijesh Goel, ordering him to begin his prison term on Jan. 9, followed by 3 years supervised release. Goel must also pay a $75,000 fine within 45 days and restitution to Goldman Sachs in an amount to be determined later.

According to court documents, Goel and his friend Akshay Niranjan, a trader at Barclays, used squash games to coordinate illegal stock trades in 2017, using code phrases like “Did you book the court?” to discuss tips. The two men met at UC Berkeley business school and became close friends.

“This was not a crime of desperation or of necessity,” prosecutors said, according to Bloomberg. “Instead, this was a crime of hubris — a crime born out of a sense that one is above the rules that others have to play by, the sense that one will not, or cannot, get caught.”

Goel passed tips to Niranjan about upcoming deals he learned of as a Goldman vice president. Niranjan then made trades, betting the stock prices would rise when deals were announced, and split the profits with Goel.

At trial, Goel argued he was set up by Niranjan, who cooperated with prosecutors. But Judge Castel dismissed this, saying “You took the stand right in this chair and you lied again and again and again.”

Both men were fired from their jobs when the scheme came to light. Goel later took a job at Apollo Global Management that he has since lost.

Niranjan was not criminally charged. Goldman is seeking $390,000 in restitution from Goel.