Jury in trial of Rajaratnam's brother hears of insider's tips

NEW YORK Tue Jun 24, 2014 4:47pm EDT

Rengan Rajaratnam exits the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Lower Manhattan June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Rengan Rajaratnam exits the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Lower Manhattan June 17, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former Intel Corp (INTC.O) executive on Tuesday, testifying in the insider trading trial of Rengan Rajaratnam, told jurors how he leaked details of a major deal to the former Galleon Group portfolio manager's brother, Raj Rajaratnam.

The testimony by Rajiv Goel, a former friend of Raj Rajaratnam, marked the first time jurors heard directly from an individual who prosecutors say provided illegal tips to the onetime hedge fund billionaire, who in turn allegedly passed the information to his younger brother.

Prosecutors played jurors a series of wiretapped phone conversations between Raj Rajaratnam and Goel, who testified that he spoke frequently with the Galleon founder about a $1 billion investment Intel planned to make in 2008 in technology company Clearwire Corp.

"The whole investment was confidential," Goel said.

Prosecutors accuse Rengan Rajaratnam, 43, of conspiring with his brother to trade on inside information about Clearwire and Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD.N) in 2008. He faces three counts of conspiracy and securities fraud.

Raj Rajaratnam, 57, is serving an 11-year prison term after being convicted of securities fraud and conspiracy.

On cross-examination, Goel said he had never met Rengan Rajaratnam until a vacation in Italy arranged with Raj Rajaratnam following the deal.

Goel said he believed he was "manipulated" by Raj Rajaratnam to provide inside information and had hoped he would not pass the tips along to anyone else.

"I did not expect him to," Goel said. "We were friends."

Goel previously testified against Raj Rajaratnam, whom he met while attending the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Goel pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the insider trading scheme and was sentenced in 2012 to two years of probation.

On Tuesday, he said he provided Raj Rajaratnam tips about Intel starting in 2007, first about a quarterly earnings report and then later about the 2008 deal with Clearwire.

In a March 20, 2008, taped phone call played in court, Goel asked Raj Rajaratnam, "So, did you, uh ... digest the information I gave you?"

The two then discuss details about the not-yet-announced deal, including how much money Intel was investing, the value of a newly created entity, other companies involved in the transaction and board members of the new company.

For several years before that, Raj Rajaratnam helped Goel financially, earning his friend $700,000 to $800,000 trading in his personal account at his request.

Raj Rajaratnam also lent him $100,000 in 2005 in connection with a home purchase and gave him $500,000 to help keep a family property in Bombay.

But on cross-examination, Goel acknowledged that he never told Rengan Rajaratnam about any of the personal benefits he received.

Rengan Rajaratnam's attorney, Daniel Gitner, has argued that prosecutors must prove his client knew of any personal benefits received by tippers in exchange for disclosing confidential information.

The case is U.S. v. Rajaratnam, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-00211.

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