UPDATE: Blankfein Testifies At Rajaratnam Trial

Mar 23 2011 | 11:19am ET

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein took the stand this morning in the Raj Rajaratnam insider-trading trial.

Blankfein was called by prosecutors to serve as a link in the alleged chain of confidential information: He is expected to testify about what former McKinsey & Co. chief Rajat Gupta heard as a member of Goldman's board; Gupta is accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of passing some of that information on to the Galleon Group founder, often within minutes of board meetings.

Blankfein took the stand at about 10:30 this morning, after prosecutors and Rajaratnam's defense team settled their issues about the scope of questioning. Rajaratnam's lead attorney, John Dowd, said he did not plan to question Blankfein about any pending investigations of Goldman, a line that prosecutors wanted him barred from. Dowd did reserve the right to recall Blankfein as a defense witness later in the trial.

On the stand, Blankfein identified Gupta from a photograph. Gupta is expected to testify for the defense later in the trial.

Blankfein's testimony interrupts that of former Intel executive and Rajaratam friend Rajiv Goel, who began his stint on the stand yesterday. Goel testified that he passed confidential information about Intel to Rajaratnam; his testimony will resume following Blankfein's.

According to prosecutors, Gupta tipped Rajaratnam about Goldman's 2008 earnings and about a $5 billion investment in the bank by Berkshire Hathaway.

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