Accused Rajaratnam Tipster Gupta Charged

Oct 26 2011 | 7:28am ET

Rajat Gupta, the former head of consulting giant McKinsey & Co., has been hit with criminal charges for allegedly passing confidential information about Goldman Sachs to hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam and will be arrested today.

Gupta, who led McKinsey from 1994 until 2003, is expected to surrender to the Federal Bureau of Investigation today. The charges against him are sealed, although it is thought that the allegations are limited to his providing information to Rajaratnam, the Galleon Group founder convicted in May of insider-trading and sentenced earlier this month to 11 years in prison.

Gupta, who was previously sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for tipping Rajaratnam—charges that were dropped, apparently to allow the criminal investigation to proceed—is not accused of personally profiting from any of Rajaratnam's trades. He is the 28th person to be criminally charged in the Galleon case; all of those previously charged save one have pleaded guilty or been convicted. The one remaining defendant is believed to be a fugitive in Gupta's native India.

Criminal charges against Gupta, one of the most prominent South Asians on Wall Street, have been expected for some time, following the SEC's agreement to drop its controversial administrative proceeding against him. The regulator is likely to refile its case against Gupta—which, under its agreement with him must be heard in U.S. District Court in New York—at some point during or after the criminal trial.

The SEC had accused Gupta of tipping Rajaratnam off about several matters he learned about while serving on Goldman's board of directors, including a surprise loss by the bank in 2008 and a $5 billion investment by Berkshire Hathaway in the same year. At Rajaratnam's trial—Gupta did not testify, but his voice was heard on several wiretapped telephone calls with Rajaratnam—Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein said that the information passed by Gupta to the hedge fund manager was confidential.

Gupta has also been accused of passing confidential information about another company which he served as a director, Proctor and Gamble.

Gupta has consistently denied any wrongdoing. His lawyer, Gary Naftalis, said in a statement that his client "has always acted with honesty and integrity" and that he did not trade on confidential information himself.

Gupta "did not tip Mr. Rajaratnam so he could trade and did not share in any profits as part of any quid pro quo," Naftalis said.

In an interview with Newsweek published on Sunday, his first since his arrest more than two years ago, Rajaratnam called Gupta a "first-class guy" and said he refused government entreaties to turn on his longtime friend and business partner.

"They wanted me to plea bargain," he said. "They wanted to get Rajat. I am not going to do what people did to me. Rajat has four daughters."


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