Ex-Goldman director Rajat Gupta says he’s innocent seven years after insider trading conviction

Rajat Gupta, retired head of consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and a former Goldman Sachs board member, was convicted nearly seven years ago of insider trading, and spent 19 months behind bars.

Now, in his first interview since his release from prison in 2016, Gupta maintained his innocence, and said he wants to rebuild his life.

Gupta told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin that he is innocent, despite being found guilty by a jury of three counts of securities fraud and one conspiracy charge, and not guilty on two other charges. He said his biggest regrets are speaking too freely about Goldman’s corporate secrets, and not testifying at his trial.

“I was going to testify. And in the very end, they wore me down and convinced me I shouldn’t. And to me, it was a personal failure,” he told Sorkin.

Gupta was convicted of illegally sharing information about Goldman Sachs to hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, who is serving 11 years in prison for insider trading. The case involving Gupta revolved around the day in 2008 when Warren Buffett agreed to invest in Goldman Sachs. After the board discussed that investment, Gupta was charged with calling Rajaratnam just 16 seconds later and divulging the Buffett news.

At the time of his sentencing, Gupta was one of the most prominent figures to face prison in the government’s widespread crackdown on insider trading.

Gupta told Sorkin that he spent time with Rajaratnam in prison, and ultimately forgave him. “We played Scrabble in prison together. We played chess. We had breakfast together.”

“I told him, ‘Raj, I am here because of you,’” Gupta said. “He’s not the apologizing type, so he didn’t say, ‘I’m sorry.’”

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