Federal appeals court upholds ex-Goldman, P&G board member’s insider trading conviction

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NEW YORK, N.Y. – A former Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble board member was fairly convicted on charges that he fed lucrative inside tips to a billionaire hedge fund owner, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made the ruling in the case of Rajat Gupta, rejecting his claims that he deserves a new trial on charges of conspiracy and securities fraud.

Gupta, 65, was sentenced to two years in prison in October 2012 but has been free on $10 million bail. It was not immediately clear when he would have to report to prison. Prosecutors said he fed tips about Goldman to one-time billionaire hedge fund owner Raj Rajaratnam.

The appeals court said the government’s circumstantial evidence that Gupta passed inside information to Rajaratnam was strong. The 2nd Circuit cited “the timing of Gupta’s calls to Rajaratnam — each placed approximately one minute after Gupta received extraordinary news about Goldman Sachs finances — and the timing and nature of Rajaratnam’s large trades in Goldman Sachs stock.”

His lawyer, Seth Waxman, said: “We’re very disappointed in today’s decision, believe Mr. Gupta is entitled to a new trial, and are closely reviewing the opinion with an eye toward further review.”

The Westport, Conn., resident was the biggest catch in the government’s five-year crackdown on insider trading that featured wiretaps and numerous co-operators. The prosecution resulted in dozens of guilty pleas and trial convictions, including Rajaratnam, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence after his 2011 conviction.

Prosecutors said at trial that Gupta raced to telephone Rajaratnam with stock tips sometimes only minutes after getting them from board conference calls, helping Rajaratnam make more than $11 million in illegal profits for him and his investors. The money was among up to $75 million that the government said Rajaratnam made illegally while he operated the Galleon Group of funds he founded.

Gupta was motivated to help Rajaratnam because he had a financial stake in some of the hedge fund manager’s business ventures, prosecutors said.

The government said Gupta, a former chief of the global consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and a onetime director of the huge consumer products company Procter & Gamble, fed Rajaratnam inside tips between March 2007 and January 2009.

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