Galleon Lawyer Can't Apply To Become Prosecutor

Feb 23 2011 | 6:33am ET

One lawyer in the Galleon Group insider-trading case wants to switch sides, but can't just yet, a judge said.

To be fair, Francisco Navarro doesn't want to jump from Galleon founder Raj Rajaratnam's legal team into the ranks of the federal prosecutors; his client, former hedge fund manager Ali Far, is a cooperating witness who has already pleaded guilty in the case. But U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson warned Navarro that if he moved forward with plans to apply for a job with the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan—which is leading the Galleon prosecution—both he and his firm could be dumped from the case.

"My belief is, if you do apply, you will be disqualified and your firm may be disqualified," the judge said yesterday. Navarro, a lawyer at Kobre & Kim, said Far was comfortable with his plans, but Patterson said seeking employment with the Justice Department is not a "waivable conflict." He directed Navarro not to apply for the job just yet.

Far pleaded guilty in 2009 and settled Securities and Exchange Commission charges last year. Far and Richard Choo-Beng Lee, who has also pleaded guilty, ran hedge fund Spherix Capital.

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