The power of federal prosecutors is on gruesome display in the latest issue of Fortune, which chronicles the story of former Citigroup commodities trader Craig Gile who found himself jailed for allegedly cooking the books at his trading desk. The strongest evidence against him is that he seems to have corrected some reports that overstated the value of his desk's assets, which prosecutors construed as evidence of knowledge that his desk was engaged in chicanery. First Citigroup flipped on him and then his immediate supervisor. With the odds stacked against him, Gile (whose name is unfortunately pronounced like "guile") pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in federal prison.
The prosecutors seem to have been motivated more by the urge to set an example for others than by the gravity of Gile's alleged wrong-doing. Here's how Fortune describes the situation:
[W]hen it comes to Wall Street, in the absence of clear rules and a lack of close regulatory supervision, the thinking among prosecutors and judges seems to be that the aggressive pursuit of a select few will be a deterrent to thousands of other traders who might be similarly tempted. Jonathan Streeter, the assistant U.S. attorney who handled the case, said he couldn't comment. However, an attorney who formerly worked in the Southern District says there are very stringent rules in the office about how far a prosecutor can bend to show leniency to a defendant. "Once that train gets on that track," says Chauvin, "it is almost impossible to derail."
Trader, father, veteran, convict [Fortune]