Raj Rajaratnam insider trading case embroils ex-Intel exec

The insider trading case of Raj Rajaratnam vs the world continues with new claims, allegations and denials being thrown around.

Former Intel executive and key government witness Rajiv Goel has told the court that he “wasn’t joking” when he gave Rajartnam information about his company. 

Rajaratnam is on trial for insider dealings, which is part of a major US crackdown on hedge fund insider trading. Prosecutors claim that he was at the centre of a scheme which generated $45 million using leaked information taken from a network of traders and a number of companies including AMD are involved.

Prosecutors have to prove that Rajaratnam made $45 million by using leaked confidential information, despite his lawyers maintaining that he conducted his business based on information that was already in the public domain and through research.

Last week the case took a turn when US prosecutors played the first wiretaps yesterday of phone conversations between the New York hedge fund billionaire and Goel.

In the tapes, Goel gives Rajaratnam details of Intel’s billion dollar investment in a joint-venture between Clearwire and Sprint in 2008 to build a global 4G platform.

However the case has moved on since. The prosecution went over several parts of secretly recorded phone calls.

“Were you joking… was this idle chit chat?” asked Reed Brodsky, citing the line, “But yesterday, our board approved this deal.”

Goel, who has already admitted to giving Rajaratnam details, said he wasn’t joking.

It is alleged that with the information given Rajaratnam went on to buy 125,800 shares of Clearwire on March 24, 2008. He reportedly gave Goel a loan of USD $100,000 to buy a house in 2005 and then one year later, a gift of $500,000 when his father fell sick.

Again, as it had with the AMD claims, Rajaratnam’s defence tried to show that information about a potential deal between Clearwater and Sprint was already in the public domain.

They also tried to question Goel’s integrity by claiming his information was incorrect and not useful to Rajaratnam.

This in turn saw Goel back down and claim that some of the information had been incorrect.

However, Rajaratnam isn’t even half way out of the woods yet – with more and more witnesses coming out of the woodwork.

Third in line is Rick Muscha, a senior executive at chip company Xilinx. The witness was called by prosecutors in a bid to try and prove that his former colleague at the company, Kris Chellam, was passing information to Rajaratnam about its earnings.

Chellam eventually left Xilinx to work at Galleon.

Also in the stands as a witness is Adam Smith. Smith, a former Galleon portfolio manager, has pleaded guilty for his part in the debacle.

If found guilty, Rajaratnam faces up to 20 years in prison.