Financial investment firm Goldman Sachs is scrambling to uncover how much damage may have been caused when one of its now former executives decided to use the company accounts as his personal piggy bank. Ashwani Jhunjhunwala, who was the VP of the company’s legal team in Bangalore, India, apparently had an overwhelming affinity for online poker, but there was just one problem – he wasn’t any good at it.
He continued to lose and ultimately racked up an ungodly amount of debt through bank loans. Desperate to find a way to cover his losses, he concocted a plan to use company funds to pay down the amount and is reported to have stolen a minimum of $5.3 million from the company, if not more, according to Reuters.
Given his background and experience with the company, Jhunjhunwala should have known that transferring millions of dollars between accounts was likely to set off alarms. They did, and Goldman Sachs took a closer look at its financial transactions. According to the company, the 36-year-old lawyer had gotten crafty and logged into computers of junior colleagues, ostensibly to train them. However, he had other ideas in mind.
Jhunjhunwala asked the coworkers to do him a favor, which caused them to have to leave the area. While the coworkers were away, the lawyer moved money from the company’s accounts to others he maintained with the Industrial Commerce Bank of China in Hong Kong. He was reportedly able to complete two transactions in under ten minutes.
When the senior counsel for Goldman Sachs’ Bangalore office, Abhishek Parsheera, realized what had happened, he called the police and Jhunjhunwala was arrested. The Chinese bank was kind enough to return the money and Goldman Sachs is able to restore order to its operations.
It may have been a happy ending for the company, but it certainly won’t be for Jhunjhunwala. He is facing several charges, including criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonesty. Those alone could see him be locked away for as many as 27 years.
There’s also the possibility that he’ll face charges related to his gambling crutch, since gambling is illegal in Bangalore. However, this is the very least of his concerns, given that penalties for illegal gambling are almost laughable. The New Indian Express explains that a violation of local gambling laws often only results in a small fine – only $2.78.