Rajaratnam Takes Stand Before Wiretap Hearing

Oct 5 2010 | 2:03pm ET

For the first and quite possibly the last time, the man at the center of the Galleon Group insider-trading case took the stand.

Prior to the start of this week's crucial hearing on the admissibility of the 2,400 wiretaps at the heart of the government's case against him, Raj Rajaratnam swore to tell the truth before a quick bit of questioning by U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell. The facts of the largest insider-trading case in U.S. history, however, were not at issue.

Holwell's questioning, instead, centered on Rajaratnam's lawyers, the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Rajaratnam had to waive his right to conflict-of-interest-free legal representation, because Akin Gump represents AM General, which makes Humvees, and AM General is owned by private equity holding company McAndrews & Forbes, which happens to employ Lauren Goldberg, a former federal prosecutor, as an in-house counsel. Goldberg worked on the wiretap warrant application challenged by Rajaratnam.

Rajaratnam answered most of Holwell's questions with a simple, "yes, your honor" or "no, your honor." Asked if he was pleased with Akin Gump's work on his behalf so far, Rajaratnam said, "Very much so, your honor."

The courtroom drama then moved on to the wiretap hearing, expected to take until tomorrow. Rajaratnam's lawyers questioned prosecutor Andrew Michaelson, who formerly worked for the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement division investigation Rajaratnam before moving to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which is handling the criminal case.

Rajaratnam's lawyers plan to call three other witnesses, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who provided the affidavit for the wiretaps, Galleon's former in-house counsel, and Goldberg.

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