The Gupta-Rajaratnam tapes

By Felix Salmon
March 7, 2011
this on Friday:

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I missed this on Friday:

Prosecutors intend to introduce audiotapes showing that Rajaratnam got inside tips from his friend Rajat Gupta…

Prosectors’ use of wiretaps has been a hallmark of the U.S. hedge fund insider-trading probe, which has resulted in more than two dozen arrests and at least 19 guilty pleas.

Rajaratnam is the central figure in the probe. Prosecutors have said they may present 173 intercepted phone conversations as evidence in the trial.

I find this fascinating, because there’s no indication in the complaint that the phone conversations were recorded at all. There’s lots of information which could have been obtained from phone-company records, about exactly when phone calls were made, what phones they were made from, and how long they lasted. But the big weakness of the complaint seemed to be that it included nothing about the contents of those calls.

Prosecutors of course don’t need to lay out their hand in full when they file their complaint — but if they’re going to come out a few days later and say they have wiretaps, what’s the purpose in keeping that information secret?

It’s possible, I suppose, that those 173 intercepted phone conversations don’t include any of the calls from Gupta, but I doubt it. It’s almost as if the Gupta investigation took place entirely separately from the Rajaratnam investigation, and that only after Gupta was charged could his investigators have access to the Rajaratnam tapes. In any case, it’s all a little odd, to say the least.

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