Prosecutors Seek Decades In Prison For Rajaratnam

Aug 10 2011 | 5:18am ET

Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam should spend at least 19 years, seven months—and as much as 24 years, five months—in prison for insider-trading, prosecutors urged yesterday.

In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell that Rajaratnam is to insider-trading what Enron Corp.’s Jeffery Skilling and WorldCom Inc.’s Bernard Ebbers are to accounting fraud and Bernard Madoff is to Ponzi schemes: The worst, and like the others deserving of decades in prison.

“Rajaratnam represents the worst of illegal insider trading,” they wrote, urging the judge to send a message to would-be insider-traders. Rajaratnam was convicted of 14 counts of conspiracy and securities fraud in May.

In their own sentencing memorandum, Rajaratnam’s defense team sought a sentence “substantially below” what federal guidelines call for, specifically something along the lines of the two-and-a-half year sentence received by his one-time co-defendant Danielle Chiesi last month.

The sentence sought by prosecutors would amount to a “death sentence” for the 54-year-old, uncalled for for crimes “not in the same league” as Skilling, Ebbers and Madoff.

“Mr. Rajaratnam’s failing health and the unique constellation of ailments ravaging his body mean, quite simply, that a lengthy period of imprisonment will constitute a death sentence and result in the permanent and final separation of Mr. Rajaratnam from his family,” Rajaratnam’s lawyers wrote.

What’s more, Rajaratnam’s “charitable acts enrich countless lives.” He is “a man remarkable for his kindness, quiet manner, lack of pretense, and boundless generosity,” bearing “scant resemblance to the greedy criminal kingpin the government attempts to portray.”

Prosecutors called Rajaratnam a “fundamentally deceptive and dishonest person” who “repeatedly leveraged the power of money and his position as head of a $7 billion hedge fund to induce friends, employees and associates to participate in illegal activity.”

Rajaratnam is set to be sentenced on Sept. 27.

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