* Ex-Goldman director denies tipping Rajaratnam
* Closing arguments in trial expected on Tuesday
By Grant McCool
NEW YORK, June 11 Having decided not to take the
witness stand at his insider-trading trial, former Goldman Sachs
Group Inc board member Rajat Gupta on Monday called
longtime friends, including an international development
official who grew up with him in India, to testify on his
Gupta's defense in the U.S. District Court trial in New York
is expected to wrap up on Monday. The jury would then hear
closing arguments from prosecutors and his lawyers on Tuesday.
"I have always observed since my childhood days that Rajat
is straightforward, direct, truthful and inspires trust,"
testified Anil Sood, 62, who was an official with the World Bank
in Asia and Africa for 30 years. "I have seen him consistently
demonstrate these values."
Gupta, 63, is charged with securities fraud and conspiracy
over allegations he illegally breached his fiduciary duties by
passing corporate secrets to former Galleon Group hedge fund
manager Raj Rajaratnam, his one-time friend. Gupta denies the
charges and his lawyers say the government's case is
circumstantial and speculative.
He is calling up to six character witnesses as part of
defense efforts to bring to the jury's attention his longtime
standing as a philanthropist as he also rose to the top tier of
the corporate world. Gupta headed the McKinsey & Co business
management consultancy for nine years and served on several
corporate boards, including Goldman and Procter & Gamble Co
Prosecutors say Gupta abused those board positions by
supplying Rajaratnam with stock tips involving Goldman and
Procter & Gamble information between March 2007 and January
If convicted, Gupta faces a possible maximum of 25 years in
prison. Rajaratnam was convicted at trial 13 months ago and is
serving an 11-year prison sentence.
In order to convict Gupta, prosecutors have the burden of
proving to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that he defied his
duties to the companies and that he had something to gain from
tipping Rajaratnam, a onetime friend and business associate.
Expectations of Gupta himself taking the witness stand rose
on Friday when his main lawyer, Gary Naftalis, said in court it
was "highly likely" his client would testify. But in a letter on
Sunday, the defense told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff that
Gupta would not be a witness.
Another of Gupta's friends, Ashok Alexander, traveled from
New Delhi to take the witness stand. Alexander testified he met
Gupta in 1986 at McKinsey and later worked with him in different
contexts, including with the public health foundation of India.
Alexander, 58, the country manager for the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation in New Delhi, said he considers Gupta "to be a
friend, but also a mentor and occasional coach."
At the start of Monday's proceedings, Rakoff angrily
demanded that a defense lawyer quickly tell him who the next
witness was. Rakoff has frequently shown impatience with the
pace of the trial, which began on May 21 and had been scheduled
to run three weeks. It is now in its fourth week.
The judge also said that for Tuesday's closing arguments, he
would limit each side to three hours "to address jurors and the
remaining portions should be addressed to the sidewalk."
The case is USA v Gupta, U.S. District Court for the
Southern District of New York, No. 11-907.