Detail by Detail, Gupta’s Lawyer Deconstructs Goldman Testimony

June 11, 2012

The New York Times on June 11, 2012 released the following:

“BY AZAM AHMED AND PETER LATTMAN

It had to have been among the least productive weeks of Lloyd C. Blankfein’s six-year tenure as the chief executive of Goldman Sachs.

For the better part of three days this week, Mr. Blankfein testified at the trial of Rajat K. Gupta, the former Goldman director who is facing charges that he leaked the bank’s secret boardroom discussions to the hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam from 2007 to 2009.

Though Mr. Blankfein appeared at ease in the courtroom, he had to clear his busy calendar. He could not monitor the volatility in the financial markets. He could not even check his BlackBerry, to which he has acknowledged something of an addiction. In short, he could not do his job.

Instead, Mr. Blankfein, who has spent most of his career in the fast-paced environment of a trading floor, had to sit still on the witness stand and respond to hours of often-monotonous questions. Lawyers on both sides had him discuss Goldman’s inner workings, from the contents of board meetings to his relationship with his lieutenants.

Goldman has played a starring role in the trial of Mr. Gupta, which wrapped up its third week in Federal District Court in Manhattan before Judge Jed S. Rakoff. The prosecution rested its case on Friday, and the defense began to put on its own witnesses.

Late Friday, after the jury had gone home for the weekend, Gary P. Naftalis, a lawyer for Mr. Gupta, said it was “highly likely” that Mr. Gupta would testify in his own defense next week.

Mr. Naftalis spent much of Friday cross-examining Mr. Blankfein to try to show that some of the information Mr. Gupta is accused of leaking was known by the market and thus not “material nonpublic information” under the insider trading laws.

The line between public and private information is critical in the case, and Mr. Naftalis worked hard to try to erase that line. He showed Mr. Blankfein two reports from analysts who followed Goldman during the 2008 financial crisis. The reports, written by analysts at Merrill Lynch and Oppenheimer, raise the prospect of Goldman buying a retail bank. Both reports came after meetings with top Goldman officials.

“GS Bank & Trust?” pondered one report. “Don’t rule it out.”

A rationale for putting the reports before the jury was to minimize damage from the only phone conversation between the two recorded by a Federal Bureau of Investigation wiretap. During that call, in July 2008, Mr. Gupta tells Mr. Rajaratnam that Goldman’s board is considering buying a bank.

A jury convicted Mr. Rajaratnam, who ran the now-defunct Galleon Group hedge fund, of orchestrating an extensive insider trading conspiracy last year.

At times, Mr. Naftalis and Mr. Blankfein often seemed to fight for the jury’s affection. While Mr. Blankfein was being presented with a batch of news pieces about Goldman’s possible purchase of a bank, an article flashed on the overhead screen with a photograph of Mr. Blankfein resting his face on his left hand. This prompted laughter from the jury and spectators.

Mr. Blankfein, seizing the moment, mimicked the pose from the witness stand, leading to more cackling in the courtroom.

Comparing Mr. Blankfein’s pose against the photograph, Mr. Naftalis instructed the chief executive to move his hand “down and a little to the left.”

As he left the courtroom, Mr. Blankfein acknowledged the jury with a nod and a smile.

Before resting their case on Friday, prosecutors played several secretly recorded short voice mail messages left by Mr. Gupta on Mr. Rajaratnam’s cellphone. During one on Oct. 10, 2008, a time of market turmoil during the financial crisis, Mr. Gupta says: “Hey Raj, Rajat here. Just calling to catch up. I know it must be an awful and busy week. I hope you are holding up well. Uh, and I’ll try to give you a call over the weekend just to catch up. All the best to you, talk to you soon. Bye bye.”

Mr. Gupta’s lawyers have said that by October 2008, Mr. Gupta had lost his entire $10 million in a Galleon fund and had a falling-out with Mr. Rajaratnam and thus had no interest in passing along insider tips. The friendly tone of the voice mail message was the prosecution’s effort to debunk that theory. Reed Brodsky, a prosecutor, rested the government’s case after playing the recordings.

For the last 45 minutes of the day, the jury watched the defense’s videotaped deposition of Ajit Jain, a top lieutenant at Berkshire Hathaway and a top contender to succeed Warren E. Buffett, Berkshire’s chief executive.

Mr. Jain, a friend of Mr. Gupta’s, testified about the acrimony that had developed between Mr. Gupta and Mr. Rajaratnam. He said that during a lunch in January 2009 at an Italian restaurant in Stamford, Conn., Mr. Gupta told him about the bad blood.

“He told me that he had $10 million invested and he had been gypped, swindled and cheated by Raj and had lost his $10 million.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Gupta Faces New Charges in Insider Trading Case

February 1, 2012

The New York Times on January 31, 2012 released the following:

“BY PETER LATTMAN

Federal prosecutors expanded their case against Rajat K. Gupta on Tuesday, filing a new indictment that broadens what they claim was an insider trading conspiracy between the former director of Goldman Sachs and Raj Rajaratnam.

In a new charge, the government contends that Mr. Gupta called in to a Goldman board meeting in March 2007 from Mr. Rajaratnam’s offices at the Galleon Group hedge fund. Minutes after the call, he leaked secret information about the bank to Mr. Rajaratnam, the government says.

Gary P. Naftalis, a lawyer for Mr. Gupta, denied the new accusations, saying, “As we have stated from the onset, the government’s allegations are totally baseless.”

Last October, the government charged Mr. Gupta with leaking to Mr. Rajaratnam boardroom secrets about Goldman and Procter & Gamble, where he also served as a director. It was a stunning blow to Mr. Gupta, who as the former global head of the consulting firm McKinsey & Company was one of the world’s most respected businessmen.

His trial is set for April 9 before Judge Jed S. Rakoff in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Rajaratnam, who was convicted by a jury last May of leading a huge insider trading ring, is serving an 11-year prison term.

The new charges seem to counter one of Mr. Gupta’s main lines of defense. At pretrial hearings, Mr. Gupta’s lawyers have said that the relationship between Mr. Gupta and Mr. Rajaratnam, once close friends and business associates, had soured by 2008, which is when the government said that Mr. Gupta leaked corporate secrets to Mr. Rajaratnam. The lawyers attribute the falling out to a $10 million loss on an investment with Mr. Rajaratnam.

By stretching the conspiracy back to 2007, when the markets were still soaring and Galleon’s investments were performing well, the government appears to be countering the defense that Mr. Rajaratnam had fallen out of Mr. Gupta’s good graces.

In addition, the accusation that Mr. Gupta participated in a Goldman board call from Galleon’s offices suggests a coziness between the two men that Mr. Gupta’s lawyers have sought to debunk.

The additional charges against Mr. Gupta involve both Goldman and Procter & Gamble.

In one new count, prosecutors assert that Mr. Gupta, then a Goldman director, participated in a telephone meeting of the board’s audit committee in March 2007 from Galleon. Mr. Gupta heard a preview of Goldman’s earnings, which were strong and set for release the next morning, the government contends. About 25 minutes after the call, Galleon bought at least $70 million worth of Goldman shares, allowing the fund to profit when the bank’s shares rose the next morning.

In the other added charge, the government asserts that Mr. Gupta called Mr. Rajaratnam from Switzerland after participating in a Procter & Gamble board call and leaked information about the company’s coming earnings release.

Separately, Richard J. Holwell, the federal judge who presided over the trial of Mr. Rajaratnam, is retiring from the bench, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter who requested anonymity because they were unauthorized to discuss it.

The timing of Judge Holwell’s retirement is unclear, but he is expected to return to private practice. He was a partner at the law firm White & Case before becoming a judge in 2003.

Judge Holwell did not respond to a request for comment.”

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.