Expert Networker Pleads Guilty In Insider Case

May 12 2011 | 1:50pm ET

On the same day, and in the same courthouse, that saw the conviction of Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam on insider-trading charges, another player in another alleged insider-trading scheme went down much more quietly.

Manosha Karunatilaka, a former employee of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and consultant for expert-network firm Primary Global Research, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud yesterday. He is the sixth person to plead guilty in the case, of the dozen people charged in the Justice Department's wide-ranging insider-trading case, one that has ensnared several hedge funds.

"I'm here to take full responsibility for my actions," Karunatilaka told U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.

"I knew that some of the information I was sharing was nonpublic and confidential to TSMC."

Karunatilaka, who was fired by TSMC after his arrest last year, faces between three and four years in prison when he is sentenced on Sept. 16. He might have been able to avoid jail entirely; last summer, Karunatilaka was reportedly approached by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and asked to cooperate with the probe. His lawyer would not say whether he is cooperating with prosecutors now.

Karunatilaka, who like Rajaratnam is a U.S. citizen born in Sri Lanka, said Primary Global paid him $200 per conversation with its clients, and that he made about $35,000 total.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara used his press release to rub that fact in.

"It should now be abundantly clear that his short-term financial gain was hardly worth it."

Meanwhile, earlier this week, the only one of the 12 people charged in the case still behind bars lost her bid to have the case against her dismissed. Winifred Jiau's lawyer had argued that prosecutors made mistakes in instructing the grand jury that indicted her client on charges that she passed confidential information to two hedge fund managers.

Joanna Hendon argued that prosecutors had both failed to provide evidence that a person with a fiduciary duty breached it, or that Jiau was engaged in a scheme to defraud "by trick, deceit, chicane or overreaching."

Rakoff was having none of it.

"I agree with the government this is quite extended speculation, really piling inference upon inference," he said. "There are deep prudential grounds indicating that speculation should not be the engine that causes a court to move."

Jiau, a former consultant for Primary Global, has been jailed as a flight risk since her arrest last year.


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