Fast Facts: Conviction of Hedge Fund Manager Rajaratnam

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 03:29 PM

 

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Raj Rajaratnam, the former head of the Galleon Group hedge fund that once managed $7 billion, was found guilty on nine counts of securities fraud and five counts of conspiracy.

The jury delivered a unanimous verdict on its 12th day of deliberations after a two-month-long trial.

The following are some questions and answers about the trial.

WHO IS RAJ RAJARATNAM?

He was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on June 15, 1957. After attending schools there and in England, he earned an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 1983. He has lived in the United States for about 30 years and is a U.S. citizen.

Rajaratnam worked at Chase Manhattan Bank and Needham & Co. investment bank as a stock analyst before founding the Galleon Group hedge fund in 1997. Forbes magazine listed him in as the 236th richest American and the richest Sri Lankan-born person in 2009. He is married with three children and lives in New York. He was arrested in October 2009.

WHAT CRIMES DID HE COMMIT?

Rajaratnam was convicted of trading on inside company information gathered from a network of company executives and lawyers. Prosecutors said he was one of 26 executives, lawyers and traders, some of them ex-Galleon employees, who illegally gathered inside company information.

The government said Rajaratnam made as much as $63.8 million in illicit profits from 2003 to March 2009. The case involved trading in more than one dozen stocks. Among these were ATI Technologies Inc., which was bought by Advanced Micro Devices Inc.; eBay Inc.; Goldman Sachs Group Inc.; Google Inc. and Intel Corp.

Prosecutors presented many recordings of telephone conversations and a series of cooperating witnesses as evidence.

HOW DID RAJARATNAM DEFEND HIMSELF?

The defense contended that it was Rajaratnam's job in managing investors' money to know something about companies whose stock he might buy and sell. It argued that insider trading laws do not criminalize conversations that brokers, hedge fund managers and traders have about stocks and companies.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR WALL STREET?

The trial was a test of the government's suspicions that insider trading is commonplace, especially in the lightly regulated $1.9 trillion hedge fund industry. The verdict is likely to embolden the government to pursue further cases.

And the unusual use of wiretaps, which sent shudders through hedge funds, is likely to become more common.

The case has also spawned a broader probe of whether consultants for so-called expert networking firms have leaked company secrets to hedge funds.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Rajaratnam will be under house arrest with electronic surveillance until his sentencing on July 29.

The charges carry a possible prison sentence of 15 1/2 to 19 1/2 years under federal sentencing guidelines. These guidelines are advisory, and a judge may impose a longer or shorter sentence. Legal experts have predicted a sentence of 10 to 15 years. Rajaratnam could also forfeit illegal profits.

COULD HE WIN ON APPEAL?

Rajaratnam has the resources to challenge his conviction. His best shot at getting the verdict thrown out may be attacking the admissibility of secretly recorded phone calls. But even that will prove difficult, according to legal experts. Judges are rigorous about ensuring that any wiretaps they approve are done properly, so it may be difficult to have any wiretap evidence thrown out.

The case is USA v Raj Rajaratnam, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 09-01184.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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