Charges added in Rajaratnam insider trading case

Additional criminal charges have been filed against Galleon hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam as prosecutors alleged he and his co-defendant reaped $49m from illegal insider trading, up from an earlier claim of $40m.

In the parallel civil case against Rajaratnam and co-defendant Danielle Chiesi, a judge ordered the two defendants to turn over wiretaps to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. In a letter to Manhattan federal court Judge Jed Rakoff, Rajaratnam's lawyers asked him to stay the order pending an appeal.

Thousands of wiretaps were made in the criminal probe between 2003 and 2009 involving Wall Street and Silicon Valley firms that was announced last October, but lawyers for the defendants and the SEC have been tussling over their use in the parallel civil fraud case.

Rajaratnam, 52, and Chiesi, 44, a former employee of New Castle Funds LLC, were arrested last October and indicted in December on charges of securities fraud and conspiracy in what prosecutors have described as the biggest hedge fund insider trading case in the US.

The new indictment adds two more counts of securities fraud against Rajaratnam. In a letter to the court on Tuesday, his lawyers said they would ask the judge presiding the criminal case to order a separate trial from Chiesi.

The indictment alleges that Rajaratnam made a total of $45m and Chiesi $4m in a wide-ranging scheme that also led to charges against a score of other traders, lawyers or fund managers. Rajaratnam and Chiesi face possible prison sentences of up to 20 years if convicted.

They pleaded not guilty to the original indictment.

“Mr Rajaratnam is innocent and looks forward to his day in court when a jury of his fellow citizens will examine and evaluate all of the evidence,” his lawyer, John Dowd, said in a statement.

Chiesi's lawyer Alan Kaufman said the superseding indictment “has nothing new with regard to the allegations against my client.”

Separately, Rakoff ruled that Rajaratnam and Chiesi, who are fighting to keep the wiretap evidence out of both criminal and civil cases, must provide the SEC with recordings they received from criminal prosecutors by February 15.

“The notion that only one party to a litigation should have access to some of the most important non-privileged evidence bearing directly on the case runs counter to basic principles of civil discovery in an adversary system,” Rakoff's written order said.

While the SEC and criminal prosecutors often coordinate with each other, there are limits under the law on the information they can share in parallel civil and criminal cases, which is why the defense was ordered to provide the material and not the prosecutors.

“We are obviously disappointed and respectfully disagree with the ruling,” Chiesi's lawyer Kaufman said.

“Rajaratnam, Chiesi and others repeatedly traded on material, nonpublic information pertaining to upcoming earnings forecasts, mergers, acquisitions, or other combinations,” the office of the Manhattan US Attorney said in a statement.

It said the superseding indictment charges trading based on inside information in Intel Corp, International Business Machines Corp, Akamai Technologies Inc, Polycom Inc, Hilton Hotels Corp, Google Inc, Sun Microsystems Inc, Clearwire Corp, Advanced Micro Devices, ATI Technologies Inc and eBay Inc Inc.

The cases are USA v Raj Rajaratnam and Danielle Chiesi, District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 09-01184 and SEC v Galleon Management LP et al 09-cv-08811.

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