John Gapper A small crowd for Rajat Gupta’s big trial

Monday was only the opening day of the trial of Rajat Gupta, the former head of McKinsey and board member of Goldman Sachs, on charges of conspiracy and insider trading. But one thing is already clear: he is not a crowd-pleaser.

Compared with some other recent trials of Wall Street figures, such as Bernie Madoff and Raj Rajaratnam, the turnout was modest. The man that Reed Brodsky, the prosecutor, described as “the ultimate corporate insider” was mainly surrounded by friends and family.

Judge Jed Rakoff’s courtroom on the 14th floor of the court building filled up sufficiently to require some of the press and lawyers to decamp to an 11th floor overflow room (in which the sound quality was abysmal).

In general, however, it felt like a private affair in relation to other landmark Wall Street cases. Given the status of Mr Gupta –  the most senior figure from the US corporate establishment to face charges since the 2008 crisis – that is odd.

The case turns on whether whether Mr Gupta supplied inside information about Goldman and Procter & Gamble to Rajaratnam on which Galleon traded. The prosecution has phone taps referring to him but no recording of him doing so.

Yet the very sight of the sleekly dressed Mr Gupta sitting in the courtroom was itself a remarkable sight.