Ex-Goldman banker was ‘framed,’ attorney says at insider trial’s close

By Jody Godoy

(Reuters) – Former Goldman Sachs banker Brijesh Goel’s trial on insider trading charges drew to a close on Tuesday, with his attorney saying he was framed by his friend and a prosecutor saying Goel had lied to a New York jury.

Goel, a former Goldman Sachs vice president, faces securities fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges for allegedly tipping his friend Akshay Niranjan to deals the bank was considering funding in 2017 and 2018.

Prosecutors say Goel gleaned the information on six companies targeted for deals – including Spirit Airlines Inc and drugmaker Patheon – from internal Goldman emails, and then tipped Niranjan over games of squash.

Niranjan, a former trader at Barclays, 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 cooperation in the case, including secretly recording his conversations with Goel.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Naftalis said recordings of Goel urging Niranjan to delete messages about the trades prove his guilt.

“Innocent people don’t huddle in stairwells whispering and deleting text messages,” he said.

Goel said on the stand that he suggested deleting the messages in an initial state of “panic and shock and confusion” after being contacted by investigators.

Goel’s attorney Reed Brodsky called Niranjan’s story a “complete and utter fabrication” to “frame” Goel. Niranjan had stolen information from Goel and at least once from his own employer, Brodsky said.

A spokesperson for Barclays declined to comment.

A Goldman Sachs spokesperson has called Goel’s alleged conduct “egregious” and said the bank is cooperating with authorities.

Goel worked at private equity firm Apollo Global Management at the time he was charged. A spokesperson for Apollo said Goel was placed on indefinite leave.

The case was one of several U.S. Attorney Damien Williams announced last summer as part of an insider trading crackdown.

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 Sonali Paul)