Ex-Goldman Sachs Banker Bansal Gets Probation Over Fed Leak

  • Bansal pleaded guilty to getting documents from friend at Fed
  • Prosecutors had sought a sentence of as long as a year

An ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who got a former colleague to steal documents from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York was sentenced to two years’ probation after a judge said he’d already been punished enough by having his reputation trashed on the Internet.

Rohit Bansal, who prosecutors said should get as long as a year in prison, pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor for obtaining about 35 documents on about 20 occasions from his friend Jason Gross, who was employed at the New York Fed. The case was first disclosed in a settlement last year between New York-based Goldman Sachs and the New York Department of Financial Services.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein said Bansal’s "selfish motivation is a significant disturbing aspect of the case," but he added that the documents Bansal obtained were “essentially innocuous.”

“Because of the power of the Internet, his reputation is forever already besmirched,” Gorenstein said at a sentencing hearing in Manhattan federal court. Sending Bansal to prison wouldn’t serve any purpose when the Internet would forever link him to his crimes and subsequent firing by Goldman, the judge said.

Advising Banks

Bansal worked at Goldman Sachs from July 2014 until October 2014 where he provided advice on regulatory issues to bank clients, including banks supervised by the New York Fed. The information he got from Gross related to a midsized New York bank that was a client of Goldman, according to settlement with DFS.

Tiffany Galvin, a spokeswoman for Goldman Sachs, didn’t have an immediate comment on the Bansal case Tuesday.

Prosecutors described the documents Bansal got only as “confidential” and didn’t provide evidence any harm resulted from the former banker receiving them, Gorenstein said.

The judge ordered Bansal to perform 300 hours of community service and pay a $5,000 fine.

“This should have never happened,” Bansal told the judge. “During my short time at Goldman Sachs I truly lost sight of what was right and acted in a way I know was wrong.” 

Savannah Stevenson, Bansal’s lawyer, said her client made "significant" efforts to make up for his misconduct by agreeing to help regulators and the government. He’s still cooperating with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve system in its related independent investigation, she said.

"He felt pressure to prove his worth and temporarily lost sight of his moral compass," Stevenson said.

Year’s Probation

Gross, who also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, was sentenced to a year’s probation on March 16.

Prosecutor Sarah Paul said Bansal’s crimes were more serious than Gross’s because he was the one who directed the theft. Bansal had worked with Gross at the Fed before joining Goldman, the U.S. said. Gross sent the Fed documents to Bansal’s personal e-mail address, and Bansal forwarded them to his Goldman e-mail account, the U.S. said.

Bansal, then a new hire at Goldman, got the idea for the scheme at Gross’s birthday party, which was held at the Peter Luger Steakhouse in Brooklyn, according to the DFS settlement. When Goldman Sachs’s management learned that Bansal got confidential information from the Fed, it fired him along with his boss.

Goldman Sachs agreed to pay a $50 million fine and accepted a three-year ban on some advisory work in New York as part of a settlement with the state regulator. The bank admitted it failed to properly supervise the employee.

The case is U.S. v Bansal, 15-cr-771, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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