Believe it or not, Raj Rajaratnam isn’t one of the good guys.
So say prosecutors summing up the case for a conviction in the Galleon hedge fund insider trading trial, reports Fortune’s Nin-Hai Tseng. She is at the federal courthouse in Lower Manhattan, where prosecutors made closing arguments this morning and the defense is scheduled to make its case this afternoon.
Assistant U.S. attorney Reed Brodsky told jurors Wednesday that Rajaratnam, the 53-year-old hedge fund manager*, “corrupted friends and employers to get information,” and then devised hare-brained plans to “cover his tracks.”
For years, Brodsky alleged, Rajaratnam raked in millions of dollars via “schemes that helped keep Galleon successful at the expense of the law and every ordinary investor.” Prosecutors say he walked off with $64 million in ill-gotten gains via trades in tech giants as well as Goldman Sachs (GS) and Procter & Gamble (PG).
Brodsky played tapes of Rajaratnam, who faces up to 25 years in jail on 14 counts including insider trading, allegedly conspiring with former McKinsey & Co. bigwig Anil Kumar to illicitly profit on plans by Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) to buy a rival chipmaker.
The tapes, Brodsky said, “were devastating evidence of crime in real time.”
The defense, which is scheduled to present its arguments this afternoon, is going to disagree. It will say Rajaratnam was just an avid consumer of information who happened to make a lot of profitable trades right after getting off the phone with people who happened to be on corporate boards.
Update: Elaborating on this thesis, Rajaratnam defense attorney John Dowd has this to say to the jury Wednesday afternoon.
The government’s case is based on “the fictional idea information can’t become public without a press release,” Dowd said. “In the real world information comes out whether the company likes it or not.”
Of course, it never hurts a trader to have board members calling the moment they get out of meetings at which confidential information is discussed. Everyone wants an edge, right? Tomorrow, with any luck, Dowd will address how that whole arrangement fits into what he deems the real world.
*Correction: Earlier I inexplicably asserted Rajaratnam was a former McKinsey bigwig. My apologies for the error.
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