Q: What do "a retired school teacher in her 70s who volunteered in the Israeli defense forces," "a Bronx woman whose boyfriend worked for a time as an audio-visual tech for Bank of America and enjoys the television show 'True Blood,' and "a 68-year-old Manhattan man who lives by himself and enjoys talk-show host David Letterman" have in common?
A: They were all chosen to serve on the 12-person jury that will decide the fate of alleged insider trader Raj Rajaratnam.
And today, these 12 (not yet angry) men and women heard opening statements in the U.S. case against Raj Raj. The gists of those two statements were as follows:
Prosecution: Raj Raj "exploited a corrupt network of people to get access to secret company information"; he got "tomorrow's business news today"; we will call several witnessess, including former McKinsey consultant Anil Kumar, former Intel exec Rajiv Goel, and former Galleon trader Adam Smith -- all of whom have already pleaded guilty to similar charges -- to prove that this is indeed true; we will play you a phone call from Raj Raj to his employees during which he passes on material inside tips that he received about Goldman Sachs from former Goldman (and former McKinsely managing director) Rajat Gupta; and, of course, we will show that Raj Raj profited handsomely on these tips.
Defense: Raj Raj ran "a legitimate business that used a 'mosaic' of research in order to make trading decisions about companies"; Raj Raj "built his success on shoe-leather research" (whatever that means); Raj Raj "spent about $300 million a year on research," so would it make sense for the big guy to pay for it if he was getting it under the table?; Raj Raj (and the rest of us) all "live in the real world" and "in the real world, there's nothing wrong with talking about stocks or researching stocks"; finally, in short, Raj Raj "has done nothing wrong."
The case continues tomorrow morning.
(Related: U.S. v. Rajaratnam, Day 1)