Over the course of the Rajat Gupta insider trading trial, attorneys for the former Goldman Sachs director have attempted to show that while their client was privy to material non-public information about, among others, Goldman and Procter & Gamble, and had an established relationship with Raj Rajaratnam, the hedge fund manager currently doing eleven years for trading on material non-public information, their client had no role in helping Raj-Raj score his ill-gotten gains. Last Monday the defense put a witness on the stand who told the jury that while once close, Gupta wasn’t even invited to Rajaratnam’s “lavish 50th birthday party that took place in Kenya,” ergo there is no way Rajat would’ve shared inside info with the guy. This week, the team was hoping to play wiretaps of conversations that took place between Rajaratnam and Goldman executive David Loeb, who they claim is the actual person who tipped off the Galleon manager. Unfortunately: Read more »
I’ve occasionally entertained myself in the last few weeks by building a fantasy-universe defense for Rajat Gupta in which he was a well-meaning but somewhat bumbling director trying to raise money for Goldman and socialize with his buddy Raj Rajaratnam but never in his wildest dreams considering giving Rajaratnam illegal insider tips in exchange for “some modest benefit” to himself. That doesn’t seem to be going well, does it? If you’re rooting for the defense, you can’t be thrilled by the sheer number of board-meeting/call-to-Raj/profitable-trade sequences, the evidence of possible financial benefits to Gupta, and most disappointingly of all the fact that Gupta is not going to get up on the stand and explain how this was all a big misunderstanding.
So let’s overcorrect and declare him guilty and move right into sentencing. A while back I put up a chart that used some basic inputs and rudimentary knowledge of the sentencing guidelines to predict how insider traders would be sentenced, and it worked okay. In particular, it gave Raj Rajaratnam just over 10 years in jail; a judge gave him 11.*
Since then there have been more Galleon convictions and sentences, none of which are wildly out of line with predictions. There was also Garett Bauer and Matthew Kluger, the “thuggish” insider trader who got a record-setting sentence for their 17-year, $37mm insider trading scheme. Here’s an update of the chart for Rajat Gupta’s consideration: Read more »
Surely everyone has been on a boring call in listen-only mode, and gotten another call, and picked it up on the handset while leaving the first call on in the background just in case anyone was like “and what do you think Rajat? Rajat? Rajat are you there?” But you wouldn’t expect anyone to make a federal case of it:
Phone records entered into evidence showed that on March 12, 2007, at about 11:31 a.m., Mr. Gupta, from the Connecticut offices of McKinsey, participated in a Goldman board audit committee call that lasted 15 minutes. The meeting was to offer a preview to the directors of the earnings announcement that would be released the next day. That same day, at 11:32 a.m., records show that a phone number at Galleon called Mr. Gupta’s line in Connecticut — a call that also lasted 15 minutes.
During cross-examination, a lawyer for Mr. Gupta got [wonderfully named FBI agent Joe] Barnacle to concede that there was not a way to determine whether these calls were connected to each other or were merely two separate calls.
Honestly, if you looked at my phone records from the times I was actually … um … employed as some sort of professional, you’d probably find equal-and-overlapping calls with at least a quarter of the board calls, org calls, update calls, and other mass time-wasters that I dialed in to. That doesn’t mean I plugged anyone nefarious into those calls – it just means I was bored and/or taking care of more pressing things and/or ADD. Of course I never participated in any board calls as a director, but still – that call was for management to tell the audit committee what earnings would be, not to glean Gupta’s consulting wisdom. Read more »
Rajat Gupta Defense Team: You Think Our Client Would Pass Inside Information To A Guy Who Didn’t Even Have The Decency To Invite Him To His Birthday Party?By Bess Levin
What motivates people to share material non-public information with a person they know will use it for profit? For some, it’s simply about greed. For others, it’s about the thrill. For yet others, it’s about pillow talk. For Rajat Gupta, the McKinsey director currently on trial for allegedly passing inside information to Raj Rajaratnam, it’s about friendship, according to prosecutors who are trying to make the case that Raj and Rajat were the best of buds and that’s what buds do. They they back each other up when they drunkenly hit on the girlfriend of the wrong guy at the bar, they stand up as best men at each others’ weddings, they pick up the phone and say “Buy GS” when they know for a fact Warren Buffett is about to do so, too. And although attorneys representing Gupta don’t deny the two were thick as thieves, they argue that while perhaps back in the day Rajat would have provided useful information to Raj, there is no way he would have done so after Big R twice violated the bonds of friendship. In the first instance, there was this:
Defense attorneys have argued that Messrs. Gupta and Rajaratnam had a falling out in fall 2008 after Mr. Gupta lost his entire $10 million investment in a fund managed by Mr. Rajaratnam and therefore wouldn’t have passed along inside information…The precise timing of their relationship’s deterioration could be crucial in proving Mr. Gupta’s guilt or raising doubts in the minds of jurors about whether he conspired to commit securities fraud…Defense attorneys have said Mr. Gupta was furious at Mr. Rajaratnam in the fall of 2008, when Mr. Gupta’s $10 million investment in a fund called Voyager Capital Partners Ltd. evaporated. According to Mr. Kumar’s testimony, Mr. Gupta felt Mr. Rajaratnam’s negligence had allowed Voyager to collapse.
And then this happened: Read more »
Remember Garrett Bauer? For those who need a refresher, GB was a trader (who “mostly worked from home”) who was charged last year for running a decades-long insider trading scam with an M&A attorney, Matthew Kluger, that involved stealing information from several law firms. (In April 2011, 20 FBI agents knocked on Bauer’s door to arrest him which, while terrifying, didn’t come as much of a shock– the duo had recently become suspicious that the authorities were onto them and, naturally, went about destroying evidence, a process Bauer recounted to a cooperating witness in a conversation he didn’t realize was being recorded, telling the CC: “My heart was beating ten thousand miles an hour. I went right up to my apartment and I broke the phone in half and went to McDonald’s and put it in two different garabage cans. And someone was watching me. I thought it was an FBI agent. And I asked him, ‘Do you know me? You look familiar.’ And, like, I was so panicked. I literally didn’t sleep that entire night…I can’t sleep. I am waiting for the FBI to ride into my apartment. I am on edge all night thinking they are coming in.”)
Anyway, Bauer ultimately pleaded guilty and is set to be sentenced today. Though he could receive up to 11 years in the big house, a judge will be taking into consideration letters “expressing support or urging leniency” sent on Bauer’s behalf, some of which were written by fans he’s gained working the college lecture circuit the past few months, explaining to undergrads why they don’t want to follow in his footsteps (hint: it involves bunk-beds). Read more »
After Raj Rajaratnam got what prosecutors say was an illegal tip about Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), a partner at Galleon Group LLC who was excluded from the trade turned red-faced and angry, a witness at the Rajat Gupta trial testified. Prosecutors claim that Gupta, who was a Goldman Sachs director, tipped Rajaratnam on Sept. 23, 2008, that Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) would make a $5 billion investment in the firm…Ananth Muniyappa, then a Galleon trader, told jurors yesterday that Rajaratnam instructed him to hurriedly buy Goldman Sachs shares that day, before the Buffett deal was announced. Today, Muniyappa described the reaction of Leon Shaulov, the Galleon senior portfolio manager who hadn’t bought shares in Goldman Sachs, when the Buffett transaction became public and the shares rose after the close of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. “He was pretty angry,” Muniyappa told jurors. “Hair all over the place, red face, eyes popping out.” [Bloomberg]
This weekend the New York Times published an amazing, front-page-of-Sunday-business article about … well, there was this guy, see, and he was annoyed because he thought some people had access to his personal opinions that he had formed based on public information before some other people had access to those personal opinions, and he decided that that was “insider trading” even though he had no inside information about any public company, and he spent seven years complaining about it to a bunch of people, and they all pretty much ignored him because they knew what insider trading is, and then at the end of the seven years he complained to Gretchen Morgenson, who had the advantage, from his perspective, of not knowing what insider trading is, and so she wrote a huge article that was like “HERE IS CRAZY NEWS FROM 2005.” Life is too short etc., and others admirably debunked the bunk, so, y’know, moving on.*
There is much to like in this morning’s Journal article about the Rajat Gupta insider trading prosecution, including a nice illustration of how the inside information that Gupta allegedly passed to Raj Rajaratnam actually seems to have been out in the market already. But let’s start with the transcript of the call between Raj Rajaratnam and his trader Ian Horowitz, which the Journal has redacted not for confidentiality but for saltiness:
Charlie Gasparino: Rumors Government Is Planning To Nail Four On Wall Street Probably Only Rumors But Listen Up AnywayBy Bess Levin
Point: “The latest urban legend to spread on trading desks and through the executive suites on Wall Street goes something like this: coming this fall, as President Obama makes his final push for a second term, his Justice Department will finally give the public what it wants in the form of an arrest of a major Wall Street figure for his role in the financial crisis. The men at the top of this “October Surprise” list are two of the more infamous figures in the banking business: former Lehman Brothers chief executive Dick Fuld and current Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein. Using the Justice Department for political purposes is, of course, pretty sleazy.”
Counterpoint: “…But after speaking to my law enforcement sources — and you can throw people who work at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department in this category — I give low probability for this urban legend coming to fruition.”
Regardless: Read more »
people helping people
And for this he should do time? Read more »
What is your model of what the FSA is thinking in its insider-trading crackdown? Here is this Decision Notice against JPMorgan global ECM chairman and general mining-industry macher Ian Hannam, shown here being unspeakably awesome in Afghanistan*, and he got in quite a bit of trouble for some pretty minor badness. Basically he was advising Heritage Oil and its CEO, Tony Buckingham, on a bunch of things including (1) being acquired by another company which is unnamed but let’s just call it Acme and (2) selling a stake in itself to “Mr A, a representative of an organisation with interests in Kurdistan (Organisation C),” which, there is a part of me that thinks that the organization was actually named “Organisation C” and that the guy would call Hannam and be like “Ian? Mr. A here.” No? I refer you again to that picture.
Anyway as things got serious with Acme in September ’08, Hannam sent an email to Mr. A saying:
“I thought I would update you on discussions that have been going on with a potential acquirer of Tony Buckingham’s business. Tony, advised by myself, has deferred engaging with the client until Thursday of next week although we know they are very excited about the recent drilling results of Heritage Oil … I believe that the offer will come in in the current difficult market conditions at £3.50-£4.00 per share. I am not trying to force your hand, just wanted to make you aware of what is happening.”
Later, he sent another email to Mr. A ending “PS – Tony has just found oil and it is looking good,” and bcc’ed Mr. B, “a businessman with interests in Kurdistan,” about whom we get no further information though I’m guessing pretty much everyone named or pseudonymed here could have someone killed on 24 hours’ notice if it came to that. Read more »