Wall Street: Ganesh and the Guptas

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Hi. Aaron Weinman here. Today's top story digs into a wealth-management banker who is being accused of stealing $50 million and investing that money in luxury hotels.

Over some 10 years, Dubai-based Iyer Vaidyanathan Narayan cultivated a tight relationship with the Gupta family in India between 2009 and 2019, according to a lawsuit filed in New York on August 16.

The lawsuit — filed by Astra Global, a shipping company controlled by the Guptas — claims that while Narayan was making nice with the fam, he was also draining their bank accounts. He has also been accused of providing false bank statements to keep his clients unaware of his actions.

What is perhaps most bizarre (if proven true), is that reportedly Narayan — who is now in police custody in Dubai over a separate criminal complaint filed by Astra in October 2020 — is still reaping the profits.

One thing is for sure, he hasn't made the cut for my Banker of the Week segment, which is right here!


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The exterior of The Chatwal Hotel on West 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan.

1. Former Indosuez Wealth Management banker Iyer Vaidyanathan Narayan has been accused of stealing $50 million. The lawsuit also accused him of doctoring bank statements, and that the stolen money was put toward hotels in New York and Miami, and land in the Catskills.

Narayan, known as Ganesh, was a managing director and the head of non-resident Indian business at Indosuez, the wealth-management arm of French bank Crédit Agricole. 

He flew from Dubai to New Delhi on several occasions to schmooze with the Gupta family. He attended their happy family events like a 25th wedding anniversary, and mourned with them at funerals in recent years.

Despite the niceties, Narayan used misappropriated funds and shell companies to make investments in hotels like The Chatwal in Midtown Manhattan and the Dream South Beach in Miami, according to the lawsuit.

Narayan was fired from Indosuez in the second half of 2020 when the bank became aware of his alleged actions.

Insider's Zoe Rosenberg and Jack Newsham have the latest on this extraordinary story here.


In other news:

Alternative investing startups to watch, according to VCs, from left: Altan Insights founder and CEO Russell Lieberman, RealBlocks CEO Perrin Quarshie, and Allocate co-founders Hana Yang and Samir Kaji

2. Venture-capital investors poured $4.8 billion into the next frontier of alternative-investment startups in 2021. Meet six up-and-coming investing startups that VCs said are shaking up how everyday investors access alternative assets like private equity and fine art.

3. Q2, a digital-banking and lending provider to companies like Betterment and Acorns, wants to win over big names like Apple and Amazon. Its digital-banking unit is building new banking products to expand its reach, and giving itself a facelift in the process.

4. Trend-following quants dominated hedge fund performance during the first half of this year. Here are eight CTA funds to watch.

5. It's long been an open secret in Silicon Valley that Twitter has been a poorly run mess. Now, with a whistleblower sounding the alarm, Elon Musk has more ammunition in his legal battle with the social-media platform.

6. Mental-health companies could see further consolidation as valuations slump in a crowded market. Here are eight companies that could get snapped up in the next year.

7. Before Damola Adamolekun became chief executive of P.F. Chang's, he interned at Goldman Sachs during the last recession. Here is his advice for other executives and founders on navigating an economic downturn in this as-told-to essay.

8. Marketing and media startups are a hot ticket for investors at the moment. These startups are using technology to disrupt advertising and marketing. Check out 29 pitch decks they've used to raise capital.

9. The Four Seasons hotel chain will fly passengers to global destinations using its custom Airbus A321neo private jet. Itineraries, which start at $135,000, include a 13-day trip from Athens to Johannesburg, and a 16-day journey from Tokyo to Bangkok.


Peggy Flannery

10. And here's our Friday Banker of the Week. Meet Peggy Flannery, a former Goldman Sachs sales and trading banker who left the bank to ply her trade in sustainable investing.

She has just been promoted to managing director at sustainable-infrastructure firm Generate Capital, and helped the firm oversee a unique deal with Starbucks and help it raise $2 billion in the last year from long-term investors like pension funds.

Check out the full story here.


Done deals:

  • Trilon Group, an Alpine Investors infrastructure portfolio company, has acquired Alta Planning + Design, Inc. Alta is a sustainability-consulting firm.Trilon manages a group of infrastructure consultant firms.
  • Erie Insurance has launched Erie Strategic Ventures, a venture-capital fund that will invest in entrepreneurs working in personal and commercial insurance.

Curated by Aaron Weinman in New York. Tips? Email aweinman@insider.com or tweet @aaronw11. Edited by Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London.

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