Galleon Group

Insider trading defense: It's just a bunch of lies

March 10, 2011: 11:04 AM ET

Prosecutors have what appears to be a very strong case against Raj Rajaratnam, with taped conversations and dozens of cooperating witnesses. But the defense team is not going to go down easy.

Raj Rajaratnam

Raj Rajaratnam enters the courthouse earlier this week.

In opening remarks Wednesday that ran over an hour and a half, defense attorney John Dowd began to dismantle what many assume to be the strongest evidence against his client, hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam: 2,400 taped phone conversations and testimony from former colleagues who accuse the financier of illegal insider trading.

Dowd, the chair of Akin Gump's criminal defense group, told the jury that witnesses for the prosecution would say things about the 53-year-old money manager that are "false and given to save their own skins." The government will take conversations out of context to make innocent statements sound criminal, Dowd said.

On the other hand, he portrayed his client as an honest, hardworking product of the American dream, someone whose determination and brilliance allowed him to attend some of the country's finest schools, rise through the ranks at investment bank Needham & Company, and eventually create his $7 billion hedge fund Galleon.

"To win this case, Raj's counsel has to successfully attack the credibility of the government's witnesses," says Stuart Meissner, a former securities prosecutor who worked in the New York Attorney General's investor protection office under Eliot Spitzer. "Much like in an organized crime case, the defense has to show that the witnesses are untrustworthy criminals." More

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