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Goldman Sachs VP in Bengaluru Scams the Company out of Over $5 Million to Pay off His Poker Debt

Ashwani Jhunjhunwala, a senior-level executive from one of the investment firm’s India branches, duped unsuspecting junior employees to transfer the company’s money within ten minutes.

by Shamani Joshi
11 September 2019, 1:00am

Photo via Pixabay

This article originally appeared on VICE India.

Goldman Sachs, a leading global player in the investment firm industry and one you’ve probably come across in Hasan Minhaj’s episode breaking down the 1MDB political scandal, just got played by one of its very own senior-level employees in India. Ashwani Jhunjhunwala, the Vice President of the firm’s Bengaluru office, tried to scam the company out of $5.4 million (Rs 38.8 crore) on September 4 to pay off his online poker debt and other personal loans. He almost got away with it too, until the company realised what had happened, prompting the police to arrest him on Tuesday, September 10.

“Ashwani Jhunjhunwala transferred 5.4 million dollars (Rs 38.8 crore) from the company’s account to a private account abroad by logging in through the computers of his three junior colleagues,” MN Anucheth, Deputy Commissioner of Police, in the Whitefield district told The Indian Express. “He transferred the money in just 10 minutes on September 4. After this transaction, the company which has a mechanism to track such activities found that the transaction was made by Ashwani.”

According to the FIR, Jhunjhunwala had used his company’s junior employees Gaurav Mishra, Abhishek Yadav and Sujith Appaiah to pull off his masterplan under the pretext of checking their work. "While working on their computers, he sent them away on some or the other pretext such as bringing water and logged on to their system. Further, he transferred Rs 38 crore in two instalments to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China illegally," the FIR states.

Then, during an internal audit on September 6, the company noticed that a large sum had been transferred out of its account, and immediately questioned the three juniors. This was when Mishra—one of the three junior employees—opened up about how he had noticed an unusual transaction on his system without initiating one. He told the authorities that Jhunjhunwala had asked him to create a Settlement Reconciliation Service (SRS) for payment recall recently, something he did without realising since he was new to the firm. The jig was up for Jhunjhuwala after the company not only realised the time he accessed the systems matched the timestamp of the transaction, but also found CCTV footage of him doing it.

Jhunjhunwala then had no choice but to admit his actions, after which Goldman Sachs filed a police complaint under sections 419 and 420 related to cheating and dishonesty, and 408 and 409 for criminal breach of trust by an employee.

Apparently, Jhunjhunwala had lost $70,000 (about Rs 47 lakh) while playing online poker, along with taking loans of over Rs 25 lakh. He then consulted an ex-employee, Vedant, who was terminated from employment because of insider fraud too, and who allegedly showed him how to divert the money. Police are now on the lookout for Vedant, who is currently absconding.

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