Venture Capitalism

The Troubling Case of the Extortionist VC: How Attempted Blackmail Got a Managing Partner 15 Months in Prison

A shocking announcement from the Albany Division of the FBI fell into Betabeat’s inbox this morning, giving us a bad case of deja-vu from our days of blogging about Wall Street trials. Giridhar C. Sekhar, the 41-year-old managing partner of the VC firm FA Technology Ventures was sentenced to 15 months in prison for “attempted extortion and the interstate transmission of extortionate threats.”

Those threats were sent in the form of six emails to Luke Bierman, who was serving as General Counsel for the Office of the New York State Comptroller at the time. Mr. Sekhar tried to blackmail Mr. Bierman about an extramarital affair to back a proposal to commit $35 million investment of the New York State Common Retirement Fund in assets managed by FA Technology. According to FA Technology’s Crunchbase profile, the firm is an early stage investor in both information technology and energy technology. If the commitment had gone through, FA Technology would have received more than $8 million in fees. Mr. Sekhar’s email were sent after he learned that the proposal would not be approved after Mr. Bierman had recommended as much.

The Times Union reports that Mr. Sekhar is based in Massachusetts, and FA’s website (which has no mention of Mr. Sekhar) only lists a Boston address, but Crunchbase lists another office in Albany. Its New York investments includes BinOptics in Ithaca and AutoTask in East Greenbush.

File this under: How Not to Raise Funds.

Follow Nitasha Tiku on Twitter or via RSS. ntiku@observer.com