Rajat Gupta Curated

Indian-American businessman

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This profile has been added by users(CURATED) : Users who follow Rajat Gupta have come together to curate all possible video, text and audio interview to showcase Rajat Gupta's journey, experiences, achievements, advice, opinion in one place to inspire upcoming accountantss. All content is sourced via different platforms and have been given due credit.

  • I would like to talk some more about what you said about prison, now it's been interesting and useful for us to hear, what did you do there? I believe you set something called a Breakfast Club in there with some of the other inmates and you were also in solitary for a while. So,these are the two experiences quite different and what did you learn from the inmates who had been there much longer than you, is that what is driving you to focus on the Justice system?

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  • So, the big wave that is coming at us right now like a wall is technology, innovation is something that has driven human enterprise right through history from millennia and we always used to say that the only constant in life is change. The worrying thing for people is the pace of change itself that has changed. It has changed so much that sometimes it becomes difficult hard to keep up and this big debate about whether technology will be the driver, will drive human behavior or people will still be able to stay on the top and use technology as a tool. What is your view on this and what is your advice and how should people approach technology?

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  • What are your plans now, what are you doing nowadays?

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  • So, are you resigned, angry, upset about this period in your life? Has writing the book helped you, does it bring more peace? Does it raise uncomfortable memories? How does this phase appear to you now?

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  • So, I want to go to another dimension of your life, you have been amongst the most successful professionals the world has seen in a while, there are lots of Entrepreneurs, Professionals, Managers in this room, give us two or three tips you think are useful because there are a lots of young people here as well. Give us a few tips which you think are useful as people build their careers must do and must not do?

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  • But you chose not to testify in your own defense. Do you now regret that?

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  • I want to spend a couple of minutes on what happened to you when this legal case came up. Your reputation was dragged through the streets by the way but we heard two different views, one which said this system has been unfair to you, you were pointed at because you were who you were, an Indian would become successful and all that was going on was considered normal. The other one said , in your position you had reached the top, he should have known better. What was actually going on, what was the truth?

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  • Walk us a little bit through what drives you, you've done these amazing things in your life, you had adversity which is of the kind very few of us have seen. What drives you every morning when you get up, how are you able to get on and do the next thing for yourself?

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  • Tell me Rajat, during the course of your very interesting and very challenging career, when did this come to your head that I have to go back and do something in India? It's very tough to keep fighting your way up the ladder particularly at McKinsey, which is so competitive.

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  • You raised almost 200 crore rupees.

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  • And are you greeted with suspicion sometimes, that this is our domain and who the hell are these guys?

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  • Is anybody listening?

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  • Have you spoken to policy makers in India on this, why there are few IITs ? I had another of your IIT graduates, Raghuram Rajan of IMF on the show. He said India needs 50 IITs. And it can be understood why they don't invest.

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  • And pretty much a self-financing business?

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  • How many institutions of the IITs class does India need?

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  • I think this is one of the worst kinds of self-denials we are subjecting ourselves to in this country.

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  • And for no reason.

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  • But you know this whole Bharat and India issue - there's ISB, there are IITs and IIMs, little islands of excellence. How do you reconcile this with the larger reality of India? In fact, that's the problem that our political class seems to have with institutions like these.

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  • Before we move on, explain this sculpture to me.

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  • To that extent, multi-crore salaries do matter?

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  • Right. But what is being valued? Is it Brand ISB or Brand India to which you have also contributed in some way?

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  • This whole business of multi-crore salaries, and the zeros seem to matter. Is it important or is it hyped?

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  • Convocation day for the Class of 2006?

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  • Rajat, It's a lovely feeling to be here.

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  • One of the Indian organisations you co-founded, the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), has had a rough couple of years, losing its FCRA (foreign funding) licence in 2017 and getting it reinstated a year later with riders attached. What’s your take on that?

    It took a very concerted effort to get the government to reverse its perspective. I think there was pressure from, perhaps, the tobacco lobby – I don’t exactly know. Tobacco is one of the biggest health hazards, and jointly with the health ministry, PHFI did some work on that. A significant part of PHFI’s funding came from outside India, and we had FCRA permission to do it (raise funds). (After the government revoked the FCRA licence), 75 global institutions like the Harvard School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins, or the London School of (Hygiene &) Tropical Medicine, wrote letters to the prime minister saying this is an institution of national importance, you cannot let it die. And I think that had an influence on their stance.

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  • Have you seen the recent reports on McKinsey—in particular, the New York Times one about the firm’s work supporting authoritarian regimes? What was your reaction?

    I was very sad to see those articles. There are also some articles about conflicts and pension funds, some bankruptcy cases that McKinsey consulted on. And South Africa, which was a different corruption case. So around six or seven different things have come up. I have some insight on one or two cases because former McKinsey partners have talked to me about them, but with most, I don’t know anything about the context – I read the New York Times article just like you did. The number of (cases) says that there is something amiss. And what struck me was the irony of when they take such a holier-than-thou attitude in my own case, and then don’t really behave. They didn’t buy into the principle of innocent until proven guilty (in my case). So now they’re crying wolf against The New York Times because people are assuming they’re guilty. I thought that the double standard was interesting.

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  • What was prison like for you?

    When I went to prison, I sort of said, “I’m going to a monastery, I will try to improve in every dimension.” And I designed my stay around that. Of course, circumstances happen to you – I was sent to solitary confinement for a long time. I was fortunate to have the Bhagavad Gita with me and another book called Light on Pranayama, which is (BKS) Iyengar’s book on pranayama (a yogic discipline focused on breathing). And I studied the Gita cover to cover. I thought I carried myself with dignity. Solitary was very tough, but in general, the other parts of the prison were quite enjoyable. I had to be in prison – I wouldn’t wish that on anybody – but I constructed a nice time.

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  • What did you think when Preet Bharara was fired by Trump?

    It is normal, customary when you change presidents that everybody resigns, and then you’re either reappointed or you’re not reappointed. Preet Bharara is a media hog. He refused to resign. So he wanted to be fired because then he could make headlines – “Trump fired me.”

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  • You wrote that you think the climate surrounding the 2008 crisis affected your case – that people were ready to believe anyone accused of a financial crime was guilty. Do you think that would be true today too?

    No. I don’t think this case would have even been brought today. There was no real evidence. I think, right after the financial crisis, there was legitimate anger. People had lost houses, people had lost jobs, their pensions were going down. The problem was that the prosecutors could never bring any cases against the real culprits of the financial crisis. No housing finance, no banking CEOs or senior executives were brought to justice. And while Preet Bharara was pretty good at publicity and was on the cover of Time magazine saying he’s busting Wall Street, he didn’t even make a dent. Now people are saying, “What did he do?” They fined all the banks – the shareholders paid that – and the executives who perpetrated the meltdown got away scot free with their big bonuses.

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  • Do you think your race had any bearing on your case?

    The jury was 12 individuals who were (from) mainstream America, who were naturally a little suspicious of immigrants. They don’t know anything about business – they’re schoolteachers, beauticians, this and that. And here they see an immigrant who came from India, who is very successful and very wealthy. So their natural assumption was okay, he must’ve done something wrong. Some people in the jury must’ve thought that. But I’ve, in general, never encountered racism.

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  • What do you wish you could’ve conveyed by testifying in court? Why didn’t you do so?

    Taken out of context, things seemed far more insidious than they actually were. The prosecutors had complete disregard for truth and kept repeating what they knew was untrue, just to influence the jury. For example, they kept saying that I owned 15% of Galleon International (Rajaratnam’s firm), but they never had any proof. Maybe I would’ve been able to correct that. And I’m the only person who could have really told the story because I knew the whole story, nobody else knew it. I always wanted to (take the stand) – I was even rehearsing. Until the very last weekend when we were supposed to decide, my lawyers kept saying no, no, you should not testify. By that time, I had sat through three weeks of the trial and it was very dispiriting. Momentarily, it was a lapse in judgement. I lost my will to fight.

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  • But do you understand why? Because it is a reputational issue and which is probably why they decided to distance themselves from you?

    The world knows I am a McKinsey alumni. I don’t think they scratched anybody else out of the McKinsey alumni book ever. Even Anil Kumar is on the alumni list. So that argument doesn’t go very well with me. They went beyond the values and beliefs they always have had. It is a universal value unless until you are proven guilty. They didn’t behave like that. They behaved I was guilty until I was proven innocent. They believe in partnership values. Partnership values mean you actually protect your partners, you don’t hit them when they are down. This is not the McKinsey I grew up in. So I was very disappointed and very hurt. That is all I can say.

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  • But do you understand why? Because it is a reputational issue and which is probably why they decided to distance themselves from you?

    The world knows I am a McKinsey alumni. I don’t think they scratched anybody else out of the McKinsey alumni book ever. Even Anil Kumar is on the alumni list. So that argument doesn’t go very well with me. They went beyond the values and beliefs they always have had. It is a universal value unless until you are proven guilty. They didn’t behave like that. They behaved I was guilty until I was proven innocent. They believe in partnership values. Partnership values mean you actually protect your partners, you don’t hit them when they are down. This is not the McKinsey I grew up in. So I was very disappointed and very hurt. That is all I can say.

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  • You have been scratched out of the alumni directory?

    I have been scratched out of the alumni directory. Scratching me out of the alumni directory was very hurtful but it doesn’t say I am not an alumnus. I am.

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  • McKinsey particularly - you feel that it didn’t stand by you, the manner in which they disassociated themselves from you, the firm as well as some of the partners, etc. You spent 34 years there, nine years leading McKinsey. Was that one of the biggest disappointments?

    Yes, I would say but let me put it in context. I am a product of McKinsey. What I am and what my skills were and what my capabilities were, what I was able to accomplish - the biggest part of that goes to McKinsey. I owe a huge debt to the firm for teaching me many things, leadership, problem-solving skills. So I have the greatest fondness for the firm and I am a partner of the firm I will always remain one.

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  • Your story, as I started by saying, is a story of enviable success and you were sort of held up as the poster boy for an Indian immigrant who made it all the way to the top in corporate America and a lot of young people looked at you with stars in their eyes and wanted to emulate what you had been able to do and replicate the kind of success that you had seen and I would imagine that there has been a lot of disappointment when the heroes that you have looked up to being knocked off?

    I am really sorry about that. In the statement to the court, I made that the biggest regret is the disappointment that I have caused to people who looked up to me, institutions that I created and who now have to deal with this part of it. It reflects on them that is a great regret and I am truly sorry for that. But at the same time, I hope they will look at it and say well this happened to him. You may have a point of view whether I am guilty or not guilty, but he dealt with it in a certain manner that I feel is also a role model. I want to give the message, bad things can happen to you, but how you deal with it, with compassion, with grace, with conviction, with self-learning is going to make a big difference.

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  • Did you ever feel that you wouldn’t be able to get by especially during that period of seven weeks in solitary?

    No, I never felt that.

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  • What was the hardest part of being in jail for two years?

    Not being there for my family and I was always worried about my four daughters and one of them was going through a breakup. She comes and visits and talks about it. I have an opportunity to interact with her for an hour on that but I wasn’t there for her when she was probably going through a difficult time. My wife went through some health issues, I wasn’t there for her when that happened. So, most regrets are about being away.

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  • So you just gave me a sense of the sort of work that you are now occupying yourself with. As you look at everything that has happened over the last decade or so, what would be the biggest lesson that you take away from this and what is the lesson that you would like to share?

    I hope my book is strewn with lessons you can deduce and they are relatively nuanced. Every reader will take a slightly different lesson out of it. One of the things my father said to me was many things will happen to you, many bad things will happen to you, many good things will happen to you. It is not what happens to you, it is how you react to it. Things happen to you. I also feel that there is this sense of what I have learned from this, there is this sense of detachment. Don’t take all of this so much to heart. The issue is how you deal with it and how you make peace with it and you detach yourself from the outcomes. I have learnt that lesson through - prison is a great place to learn that. When you have stripped off all your freedom and your worldly belongings, you realise you don’t need any of it to actually to be at peace with yourself. But somebody else will draw some other lesson and I am not exhaustibly telling you the lessons I have learned. I tried to write in the book in a way that doesn’t have, after every chapter, “here are the three lesson you should takeaway." I wrote the book saying: “Think about what and how you relate your own life to this." I tried to say what I was going through, not only in just last five years but through my life. You draw whatever lessons you want to draw out of it.

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  • So you have to make your peace with what has happened? The fact that you are repealing means that you haven’t made your peace with it?

    No, it means that I am fighting the wrong case from my perspective. I will fight till I have any fight left in me or the process allows me to fight. That is my karma yoga. I mean I am going to do everything that I think is right, is just and I did it and the outcome was that I lost. Now I am fine. Most important is that I appealed. It is not the outcome of whether I won or lost. When I appealed, I thought my chance of winning that appeal was less than 1 percent, but I still appealed because I felt that was my duty to do so.

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  • As you said at the start of the show that this book is not an attempt to relitigate, are you giving up on the appeals process now?

    It is done now, I have no more appeal left. So it is done.

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  • Since we are talking about Anil Kumar and again it struck me as odd and I will tell you why it struck me as odd, I think you allude to that as well in the book that here is the man who has lived decades at McKinsey. For me, to be able to do this interview I have had to sign in non-disclosure agreement (NDA), and you have a conversation with Rajaratnam and he told you quite specifically that he is paying off Anil Kumar for information, yet you didn’t act on that?

    No, let us just be clear. He did not say he paid me for information, the conversation was that he said that he paid Anil. He and Anil were very good friends. Many times he had said things that I never found were right. So he said I am paying. Firstly, it didn’t even register to me because Raj talks like that – “Oh I am doing so much for him”, etc. I can see how it can be interpreted out of context. But to me Raj was a very good friend of Anil and he helped his son, he helped Anil, they were trying to talk, etc. By the way, if he paid Anil a million dollar, he never mentioned anything about information. If Anil gave him some advice and he gave him a million dollar, it is his business. There is nothing particularly wrong in that. If he was paying for inside information, obviously there is, but that is not what the conversation was about. I can see, you can argue the way you are arguing, lots of people interpreted that way. McKinsey did, but that is incorrect. That is not how I heard it, so it was not my obligation to tell McKinsey, it wasn’t because it could be for a very legitimate reason that he is paying million dollars to a good friend. Rajaratnam was a very generous man. He gave a million dollar to ISB. He is from Sri Lanka, he is not even from India. You can look at - if your every conversation was recorded and it was taken out of context, I could quiz you on five things you said and said, no, this is not. So that is what that was. There is only a conversation. Think about this - they recorded thousands of conversations, they did not find one where there was an illusion to any insider information. Doesn’t that surprise you? I mean staggering number of - from 12-18 months they recorded, I had many conversations with Raj.

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  • You have talked about how you perhaps have been trusting in, even you have been saying your wife later told you that she didn’t trust Anil Kumar who is again one of the central characters in how all of this played out. She had misgivings about several of the other people that you had business dealings with through the course of this book. Why would you be such a poor judge of character? You led McKinsey, one would imagine that there would have been some due diligence that you would do in the business dealings, the business associates that you signed up with?

    I have been a good judge of character for another 100 good examples I can give you because in trusting them and in helping them and in working with them, they did many good things and I can name many examples. You picked up 2-3 examples, in hindsight obviously it does make sense. But just to tell you about Anil Kumar, he did what he did. He did not know anything about the case he testified. But I don’t want to undermine his contributions in helping me build ISB. He was very much there, he did good things.

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  • But he wasn’t giving you the information according to your own account and yet you chose not to act?

    I consulted a lawyer… I would be travelling around for two weeks all around the world. I would come back and I would have one day to focus on it. I would make a call to the lawyer, I would make the call again to Rajaratnam, and then it would go out of my mind for the next two weeks I am running around. So I cannot fully explain to you.

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  • That is the question I asked you why wouldn’t you?

    Because I never sued anybody in my life. I thought why would this guy cheat me?

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  • You said that the biggest mistake or one of the biggest mistakes that you made was re-joining the Goldman board after you had resigned to join KKR and that is the one thing that you would re-do if you could? In a narrow sense, I mean in the course of what transpired between 2009 onwards. What would be some of the other things that you would like to change?

    I was a little bit too trusting, I should have probably sued Rajaratnam immediately.

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  • You think that may be one of the lessons that you didn’t learn through the course of your career was the art of sacrifice of doing less.

    You are right about the art of saying no. Yes, I did say more ‘yes’ than ‘no’. I thought it was good to lead life saying ‘yes’ rather than ‘no’… but in spite of that, I should have said no to more things because in the end, as I described in the book, that they got to a point where I was overwhelmed with good things.

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  • Since you talked about your story being a lesson for others who are looking at business and at the corporate world and so on and so forth… through the course of the trial, the prosecution's argument was that this was about greed and you contested that… if it wasn’t about greed, was it about ego? Was it about being on the Goldman board, being on the Procter & Gamble (P&G) board, being the founder of Indian School of Business (ISB), being the founder of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI)? How much of the choices that you have made were also driven by the fact that you wanted to see yourself and your name was associated with things that people envy, how many of these were choices made because of ego?

    Somebody else has to judge that. I cannot judge that. I have to tell you that my motivation, for example, from starting ISB had zero to do with ego. I felt that I knew something about business schools because McKinsey was the largest recruiter… I thought that I could make a contribution to India by starting a world-class business school. I wanted to do it in a certain way, in a collective fashion and get the leaders of industry to join hands and create it and that is what happened. It didn’t have anything to do with ego. If it had to do with ego, I would have my name somewhere and I would have this and that. I only joined Goldman because Hank was after me. Who cares about when you are in a corporate board or not, I don’t think it is ego-gratifying in any significant way. I was proud of what I had done. PHFI – there is nothing to do with ego. Public health is a major issue in this country and it was completely neglected.

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  • How do you look at reinventing yourself because that also seems to be part of the attempt of what you are saying in this story?

    It is not so much that I need to reinvent myself. I have always been, for 25 years, extremely passionate about not only my profession but things beyond that. Societal issues in general, bringing management in business, thinking to the social sector, I have been always very involved in education and in health and in public health, I don’t need to reinvent myself in those things. Last week, I was in Nigeria working towards establishing a university of technology and management. I have been working lately in Gujarat on maternal and child health issues in a very large group of 300,000 people and we have been organising a programme for the past one year – I don’t need to go into the details but basically, it is about women and child health. So these are not reinventions, this is what I have always done. I am 70 now, so the reinvention is I spend more time with my family, I spend more time with myself, I spend more time travelling, so on… I don’t feel I have to prove anything, I just do what I enjoy, I do spend time with people I enjoy spending time with, I work on issues that I am passionate about and I spend more time with my family and friends.

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  • Through the course of the two years that you spent in prison, you talk about how you reread the Bhagavad Gita, especially when you went for solitary confinement for seven weeks cover to cover, three times over, as you look at your life today and the book is titled Mind Without Fear, is that because there is nothing more to lose?

    The entire philosophy of Gita is very liberating because what it says is that if you do the right things, that is all really is your duty and do it with the best of efforts you can make or best of ability you have and then the outcome is almost immaterial. So in that sense, it is extremely liberating because your actions are extremely liberating if you do it with the right intentions and do it well. It is important to do the right things and even losing your reputation is liberating because you can do whatever course you want to do, you are not bound by some.

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  • As you look at everything that transpired and we just spoke about 2008 and you do believe that the outcome of this entire trial would have been very different if it hadn’t happened in 2008 because of the anger against Wall Street and the anger against what has happened with Lehman and big business. What are the lessons that you draw from the way that Wall Street has run, the way that big firms have run and as you look at it as an outsider today, do you recognise why there is so much anger against the system, do you understand it?

    Of course, I understood it then. I felt that I am, in many ways, not a financial guy. I found I went into the Goldman board because of my relationship with Hank Paulson, only one simple thing. When I was there, I found many things that were not to my level of comfort. An example, Goldman always had business with both sides and all sides of the deal and I would ask the question: “How can you serve both sides?” and they would say: “Oh, we can manage this and that and the other.” In general, I would say that is not a very good practice. The whole financial crisis was and the subsequent bailout, all of it, because it became too big to fail and you basically increased that the rescue was to make the already privileged and wealthy even wealthier and the main street was left behind in terms of what happened. So I personally believe that the anger is justified and I wish - that is why I keep saying - that people should have been held accountable, all they did was to fine financial institutions. That cost went to the shareholders, nothing else. They didn’t hold anyone in senior management accountable. So I feel, I understand the anger very much.

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  • You should have taken on the KKR.

    I did take it on the KKR and Goldman begged me to come back… they wanted me to make a choice and I had made the choice. I said: “Okay, in that case, it is KKR.” I resigned… and then three days later, they come back and said: “Please come back and don’t do it.” I, out of my sense of duty, stayed on. I should never have, knowing how the organisation itself reacted. If I had not done it, it is a professional mistake on my part… the first one definitely would have avoided this whole episode in my life. Testifying or not, I am not sure whether it would have changed the outcome or not and I don’t know, nobody can know. There are other mistakes I made. In terms of going into business within the financial world, with Rajaratnam, probably was the mistake. In hindsight, you can have many mistakes… Even Raj had faced some revisionist history. I checked with Hank Paulson before I went into business. He came with this sterling reputation and recommendation from no less than Hank Paulson who was the guru of the financial institutions.

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  • If you could go back and I know that it is through the book you are conflicted on whether you should have taken the stand or not and you wanted to but eventually between your lawyer and your family, the overwhelming opinion was that you shouldn’t and you decided against it. Is that the only thing that you would change if you could go back?

    No, many things. I shouldn’t have gone back to the Goldman board, just start with that.

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  • Again I go back to my impressions from the book. It also seems to be your way of holding people to account. People who stood by you and people who you believe stabbed you in the back or didn’t stand by you, I think the reference to Lloyd Blankfein, for instance, very clear that you believe that he didn’t do what he ought to have done for you. Your former partner at NSR, Parag Saxena and there are many others… you named each individual or many of those individuals - the ones who stood by, the ones who didn’t. Is this also an attempt, as I said, to hold people to account?

    No, I don’t have… I am not seeking any retribution, it is more to me how I saw the story and I have only picked up things which really affect. I am telling you where it hurt - when McKinsey did what it did. It hurt when Parag - who was instrumental in creating a fund - kicked me when I was down. It hurt a lot. So I tried to make it an honest book. By the way, I don’t have anger towards any of them, I am not angry at Preet Barara… I am not angry at Judge Rakoff, although I felt that he did some things that were not right in terms of his rulings. There were many – I have written about most of the disappointments I had and written about most of the misjudgements I thought I made, mistakes I made...

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  • The reason I brought up those three instances and the reason I brought up this impression that I got from reading the book that you feel wronged is that continues to be the theme towards the end as well while you may accept what destiny has finally delivered in the form of the sentence and the conclusion of the trial but you still continue to believe that you were wronged that you were a victim of poor timing or perhaps bad judgement, there is no acknowledgement of the fact that there might have been indiscretions on your part?

    No. I do acknowledge that in terms of the discussion that was the only discussion that was taped. I say that this was probably wrong for me to say this. In terms of what you are saying about victimisation throughout … honestly, since my days of high school, I feel I had a charmed life, I never felt victimised. I don’t know, I was lucky in many places. I probably wasn’t going to get a job in McKinsey, I got a job in McKinsey because somebody recommended me. I was the most unlikely choice to head up McKinsey. I was in the right place at the right time and I got elected. I did many things that were very lucky and I had a pretty charmed life until this happened. So I never felt victimised. Now in this particular case, it is not about victimisation – yes, I feel wronged. I think it was unfair and I think I am innocent, I would say that clearly and I will say that always. But I am not saying: “why me?", "feel sorry for me”. No. I am saying, this happened, I fought the best I could, and I have fought the longest I could. I lost. It is okay, it is the outcome.

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  • Not victimised but that the world owes you something?

    No, that is not the world owing me anything. That was like - okay, let me find an interesting arrangement if they don’t want me to speak in class. That was the only deal there. It was nothing to do with I am entitled or anything. On the first incident, yes, I was then awarded the best all-round student in the school. I deserved to be perfect. It is true. I felt that way then, I feel that way now. They acknowledged that. When the principal came back. It is a story. I have related everything with my honest emotions when whatever happened, what I remember and this is 50 years ago if I remember it, it made an impact on me. There were many instances in life and I am sure in everybody’s life where you either feel disappointed, you feel that you are wronged or it was unfair but I have always believed in the other side, which is that you try your best and then whatever the result is, you accept.

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  • I go back to the incident you described not being chosen perfect and the feeling that you had was that this was rightfully mine, I deserved this and yet it was not granted to me and then, of course, later on you were made perfect. Similarly, an incident that you described in Harvard where you felt that they told you that you should speak up more and then when you started to speak up more, they had a problem with that.

    That story was more interesting from a different angle altogether, which was that I had been studying at IIT for five years, I was tired of going to school. So it gave me an excuse -- for three courses I didn’t even read the cases. So it was like okay, great and now I have got only two cases to prepare and fine, it was very different, I was not feeling victimised.

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  • No? Because it comes through.

    No, if that comes through, that was not the intention. I think the way I would say is that when my parents passed away that was a very tough time for me so it had nothing to do with a conspiracy or feeling of victimisation.

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  • Again I go back to the book and you have vividly described your childhood years, you have described the time that you made the move from India and moved to Harvard and then, of course, your years at McKinsey, there is something interesting that I found that through the course of the book, there is almost this impression of the world sort of sometimes conspiring against you, you have described these moments in your childhood, you have described this while at Harvard and you keep talking about how you were this overstretched man who didn’t have enough time to deal with his own personal affairs so to speak, do you feel like perhaps you may have felt this sense of being a victim in your own life?

    No.

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  • And that process is over, you have paid the price for that.

    Yes, I have paid the price for that.

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  • The Indian immigrant versus the Indian immigrant.

    Perhaps, he wants to make sure that people understand he is impartial, etc. We are having a chat mostly about - whether this is a defence of my case. It is not. I wrote a book because I felt that it is an interesting story. There are many lessons from this and I wanted to write it for young people, I wanted to write it for my children, grandchildren. I want people to see themselves in some part of the story, you make choices, you make good ones, you make bad ones and you learn lessons. So that was my purpose. I can defend my point of view but that is not the purpose.

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  • But the emphasis and the impact that he seems to have had on you…

    Of course – look, it is emotionally extraordinarily draining when you get charged on Diwali. Here, you are wanting to celebrate with your family… So this is not about Preet Bharara and me by the way, it is not because I am telling you, I have discovered the underbelly of the US justice system through my own experiences and through experiences of my fellow prisoners who I have talked to extensively. There are some significant misaligned incentives and everybody acknowledges that… Preet is just like any other politically ambitious prosecutor. It happens to be that he comes from the same background as we and so on and so it is interesting in that sense.

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  • Okay, that might be a mild way of putting it but as I said there has been that criticism but you repeatedly – during the course of the book – talk about almost as if this was a personal battle between him and you. You talk about how he tried to get after you on Diwali and Dussehra knowing the significance of that for somebody like you, an Indian immigrant… I found that interesting that he is the most central character in a sense in the book.

    He is only but less than one percent of the book.

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  • There has been criticism of what some would argue misplaced priorities on the part of Preet Bharara and the US Attorney’s office of not going after the big fish so to speak.

    That is a mild way of putting it.

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  • There may be some truth to that?

    No, no but he didn’t crack Wall Street in terms of just the people who have caused the financial crisis. So yes, he went after people who he could win and not only that, he tried tactics. For example, charging me before Rajaratnam’s case and trying me in absentia. I was the headlines in half the days in Rajaratnam’s case… I can only say that this is prosecution driving to make sure they got me, to make sure they win, it is not about the search of truth.

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  • It is interesting. This is your side of the story and if I could say that to my mind - the way that you articulated your story, there is a very clear villain in the piece and it is not Rajaratnam, at least not in my assessment of your story. The villain in the piece has turned out to be the US Attorney, Preet Bharara. You speak in this book about Preet Bharara wanting to go after you, of you being the soft target, of you being held up as the poster boy for everything that was wrong with Wall Street and you, actually, towards the end of the book have even made peace with Rajaratnam. Is this accurate and have you made peace with him and you actually hold Preet Bharara in a sense responsible for everything that went wrong?

    No. Let me try to elaborate on that. On Rajaratnam -- I met him in prison, we were in the same prison. I said two things, I will just summarise – one is, I do hold him responsible for it. The reason I was there is some discreet things he said, which were complete exaggerations or so on which is what was used as he had said circumstantial evidence. I also thanked him for not doing what prosecutors typically do which is – “I will give you five years off, you testify against Rajat." He told me, “I have nothing to testify against you." So I told the government, I have nothing to testify against him, why would I testify? For an 11-year sentence, he was getting five years off. That is straightforwardly bribing a person and he didn’t rise to that. I give him credit for that. I respect him for that. In terms of Preet Bharara, you start with the fact that they have not been able to hold accountable even one banker. Now I ask you the question. What is the value of going after me when I didn’t make any money, there is no proof of conspiracy and it has nothing to do with the financial crisis, why don’t you go after the real culprits? They were not able to go after any of them because they were too powerful. Okay. This is an acknowledged fact, even legal minds write about this chickenshit club of prosecutors who go after people they can win.

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  • Why didn’t you sue?

    No, I contacted a lawyer. It is in the evidence. I contacted a lawyer, I was about to sue him then Rajaratnam called me or sent me an email, I forget what it was, acknowledging that the money was lost and then he was going to try to negotiate with the banks to recover part of the equity. In those days, the banks were giving haircuts to loans and so on and I said okay, please go ahead and do that. That was what he was doing and in the middle of that, if I said: “okay, not only that, you withdrew …”, then you will get into a debate about whether it was legal for him to withdraw it. It was not certainly in the partnership spirit but it could have been legal to withdraw money. But, it leaves zero equity or very little equity when the fund went down. I may have spoken to him once after that and I confronted him and by that time it was no point suing him. It was that situation.

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  • The reason I asked you that question – I think a lot of people will go through this book and who probably have tracked the course of that case, will find it all that after you first came to know of him withdrawing money from the voyage of fund, you were upset, your secretary and you tried to contact him seeking information but you did nothing more than that.

    No.

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  • Since you raised this specific example and I found this odd in the book because this is a period where you claimed that things had already started to sour between you and Rajaratnam, that you had already been given information about the fact that he had withdrawn money from the voyage of the fund. Yet, you are having this conversation with a man who has allegedly pulled money out of the fund that you have invested in about career advice, that sounds a bit odd, doesn’t it?

    No, here it is that what he did was a little strange in the sense that he took out his equity without giving me my share of it. Legally, he has a right to do that but what happened is that it depleted the equity in the fund. I was going after him to get me the information, I had learnt it third hand. Finally, the accounts came and they were footnotes which were in the summer and now I had to say: “Raj, there was a reason, give me the accounts” and he was avoiding doing that. I just couldn’t believe that he would do that. I thought that there was some explanation. That doesn’t mean I was never a friend of his, it was a relationship that was going sour because of which we had already decided we are not going to be partners in NSR. So yes, he called me to ask about Goldman meeting he was having with the CEO. And in that conversation, I asked about – I was debating through my mind – whether I should join KKR or Goldman. He is in the financial industry, it was a natural question to ask.

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  • Only the choice of business partners.

    I know I have not done it. There are three essential things in an insider trading -- one is you should have passed inside information, you should have passed it with criminal intent and you should have a quid-pro-quo and have a real benefit out of that. They were not able to establish many of those things. Only the first part - they were saying “circumstantial evidence”… there was no benefit, they acknowledge that. There was no quid-pro-quo. There are many questions you could ask. I will give you a few examples. Why would Raj Rajaratnam – when I was asking him advice about if I should leave Goldman board and join KKR – advise to leave Goldman board if I am an informer to him. Right? Why would he say that?

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  • You say it is not a true story, you say that if you had told your story and presented your story to the jury, perhaps, the outcome of the trial would have been very different. You talk about how, what the prosecution had against you was largely circumstantial evidence. But through the appeals process as well, the court has established that it was a fair trial that you were given a fair chance and this is what the jury – eight people – who sat on that jury, listening to what you had to say or what your team had to say or what the prosecution had to say, arrived at. But there is no attempt in the book on your part to acknowledge that perhaps you made a mistake?

    No, I acknowledged a number of mistakes.

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  • Going through the book - one of your biggest regrets is the fact that you didn’t testify during the course of your own trial. So this is your way of telling the world what transpired between 2008 and the time that you were imprisoned. Will it change anything is the question. Will it change perceptions that have already been made because these are not allegations that have been levelled against you, there has been a trial? You have appealed in 2014, you have appealed in 2015, you have appealed in 2016 and you have lost all of those appeals, what do you hope to achieve with this?

    It has nothing to do with the case. I am telling my side of the story but this is not to relitigate the case or not to defend myself. It is to basically tell a story and tell it in my own voice and what I went through and how I see the facts as I see them and I narrate them. The facts themselves are not any different from what they were in the trial. There is not a fact that is at odds that how you interpret different things and I am not looking for relitigating the case. As you correctly pointed out, I resolved to fight it all the way. I fought it for seven years. I lost every battle. It is unfortunate. The prosecution was able to weave a very believable but not true story.

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