SEC Can Have Rajaratnam Wiretaps, Judge Rules

Feb 10 2010 | 3:37pm ET

A federal judge has ordered Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam and his co-defendant, former New Castle Partners executive Danielle Chiesi, to turn over thousands of wiretaps to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Rajaratnam and Chiesi received the wiretaps as part of discovery in the criminal case against the two. The SEC, which did not receive the evidence from prosecutors, demanded that the two turn them over as part of the civil insider-trading case being pursued by the regulator.

Lawyers for Rajaratnam and Chiesi argued that the SEC did not have the authority to use wiretaps. They have also challenged the wiretaps in the criminal case, arguing that they were obtained illegally.

But U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff ruled that it would be unfair for only one side in the civil case to have such crucial evidence.

“The notion that only one party to a litigation should have access to some of the most important non-privileged evidence bearing directly on the case runs counter to basic principles of civil discovery in an adversary system,” Rakoff wrote in his order.

The judge did order the wiretap evidence sealed in the civil proceedings.


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