Ex-Fed Employee Admits to Stealing Bank Stress-Test Data

A former Federal Reserve employee admitted to illegally taking documents, including bank stress test data, after deciding to leave the board, U.S. prosecutors said Friday.

Venkatesh Rao, 67, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Maryland to a single charge of theft of government property. In 2019, Rao entered the Federal Reserve building in Washington over several weekends and printed more than 50 restricted documents, which contained information used by the board to conduct stress tests.

Rao, who at the time was voluntarily separating from the board after receiving a poor performance evaluation, took the documents to his home in Bethesda, Maryland, according to a plea agreement.

Court records don’t explain what Rao intended to do with the information or whether any of that data was given to anyone outside of the government. Rao, who’s scheduled to be sentenced in May, faces as much as a year in prison.

Rao’s lawyer, G. Allen Dale, said in an interview that his client did nothing with the documents he copied, noting that he was the author of everything he had printed. Dale also pointed to the misdemeanor charge Rao pleaded to as evidence the government wasn’t accusing him of having more nefarious intentions.

The Fed’s annual stress tests are among the central bank’s top oversight tools, meant to ensure the financial industry can weather a severe crisis. The agency is famously guarded about the data it reveals to the institutions being tested.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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