Former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta had sought permission to visit India last month for a family wedding but a US court denied his request citing "strong motivation" for the India-born convicted executive to use the occasion to flee to his native country.
Mr Gupta, 65, convicted on insider trading charges in June 2012, had written to US District Judge Jed Rakoff on February 13 seeking to "modify his release conditions" to permit him to travel to New Delhi from February 27 to March 10 2014, to attend his nephew's wedding.
Federal prosecutor Richard Tarlowe had submitted in court that Mr Gupta should not be allowed to travel to India for the 11 days.
Mr Gupta had made the request to travel to India in February while his appeal to throw out his conviction on insider trading charges was still pending in federal court.
The IIT and Harvard Business School alumnus suffered a setback after the US Court of Appeals yesterday upheld the verdict of the trial court that had sentenced him to two years in prison on insider trading charges.
Mr Rakoff, who had presided over Mr Gupta's trial in the summer of 2012, said in his February 24 order denying Mr Gupta's request to travel to India that there is significant flight risk if Gupta is allowed to travel to his homeland, with which he has "immense ties".
"India would be the ideal place for him (Gupta) to flee. He has immense ties to that country and more than significant assets with which to maintain a comfortable life there. If his application (to travel to India) were granted, he could enter India lawfully with excellent opportunities to delay extradition for years or avoid it altogether," Mr Rakoff had said adding that the wedding could take place in Mr Gupta's absence.
The judge also said that Gupta's family, which has close ties to India, could "readily visit" him there or even "relocate" if Mr Gupta settles in India.
While Mr Gupta had offered to sign a "waiver of extradition," Mr Rakoff cited the "immense delays" in the execution of "even the simplest judicial acts in India" suggesting that extraditing Gupta to the US could take years or be avoided totally.
Mr Rakoff had said that since the appeals court's decision on Mr Gupta's plea to overturn his conviction was pending at the time he made the request to travel to India, "Gupta must show by clear and convincing evidence" that if the court allowed him to go to New Delhi, it would not create a risk of flight.
"While the court is sympathetic to Gupta's desire to be at his nephew's wedding, and while the court has previously held that Gupta, if confined to the US presents a low flight risk, the risk of flight would materially increase if he were permitted to go to India at this time," Mr Rakoff had said.
Mr Rakoff said Gupta's "motivation to flee is inherently strong at this juncture" when the "only thing" that stands between him and his imprisonment was his pending appeal.
"The court has independently considered whether any additional conditions could materially reduce this enhanced risk of flight, but finds that no condition or set of conditions would adequately do so.
Accordingly, the court denies defendant's motion to modify his release conditions to permit him to travel to India," Rakoff's order said.
Gupta was found guilty by a jury of one count of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud, in connection with providing material non-public information to hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam.
He was sentenced in October 2012 to two years of imprisonment, to be followed by one year of supervised release.