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.
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
19 people have already pled guilty in the vast, ongoing insider trading bust. Can Raj Rajaratnam's lawyers make a strong enough case for the hedge fund manager at its center?
Opening statements are expected to begin Wednesday in the insider trading trial of hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, kicking off a courtroom drama expected to last more than two months. Jury selection began on Tuesday.
No insider trading case has attracted this MOREKatie Benner - Mar 9, 2011 9:49 AM ET
The Galleon insider trading ring has enveloped a big fish on Wall Street with the SEC's charges against Rajat Gupta, a former member of the board of Goldman Sachs and a former managing director of McKinsey & Co.
Dammit, Rajat. We gave you the benefit of the doubt. We said that we wished it were not so. That it might all be all series of coincidences—that a former managing director of MOREDuff McDonald, Contributing Editor - Mar 1, 2011 1:13 PM ET
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