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Developments abound in the insider trading trial of Raj Rajaratnam, the star hedge fund manager who used privileged information from McKinsey & Company executives to build a massive personal fortune. One of those McKinsey execs, Anil Kumar, testified yesterday against his former co-conspirator, revealing the depth and complexity of the gang's fraudulent scheming.
Kumar, 51, a McKinsey partner through 2009, is seen as the government's star witness against Rajaratnam. After tearfully pleading guilty to charges of securities fraud last year, Kumar began openly cooperating with government investigators in a bid to limit the duration of an inevitable stay in federal prison.
Yesterday was the first day in which Kumar was asked to testify directly against Rajaratnam, a friend from business school who, according to Kumar, initiated what would become a highly illegal relationship based around the McKinsey man's divulgence of sensitive corporate information. Overall, Kumar received almost $3 million in discrete payments from Rajaratnam in exchange for information on Kumar's clients at McKinsey, ranging from Hewlett-Packard (codenamed "New Hampshire") to Advanced Micro Devices (codenamed "Falcon"). While Raj Raj wired Kumar's payments to a secret Swiss bank account registered to Kumar's housekeeper, the mastermind himself made roughly $20 million as a direct result of the information Kumar provided.
Wings clipped: Downed 'falcon' ponders life in the cage.
Kumar attests that both he and Rajaratnam were acutely aware that they had crossed the line from earnest collaboration to full blown insider trading. "I knew the information was valuable," Kumar said. "He would thank me." "Mr Rajaratnam kept asking me for that information and I felt that I owed him something given how much money he was paying me," he said with emotion amidst a hushed courtroom.
Jurors listened to phone discussions obtained by secret government wiretaps that corroborate much of Kumar's testimony.
As the prosecution's star witness, Anil Kumar is expected to disclose most of the direct evidence that will be used against Rajaratnam, currently out on $100 million bail after pleading not guilty to the government charges.
Kumar's testimony will also shape the fate of his former boss, longtime McKinsey managing director Rajat Gupta, who currently awaits formal charges stemming from his involvement with Rajaratnam. Gupta, who allegedly leaked sensitive information to his Galleon cohort about Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble (Gupta served on the board of both companies), has also denied any wrongdoing. Prosecutors assert that Kumar was one of Gupta's favorite protégés; if the protégé decides to testify against his former mentor and confidant, Gupta's fate will likely be sealed—just as Rajaratnam's likely is now.
Gupta has resigned from the boards at Goldman, P&G, and the New Silk Route, a $1 billion-plus private equity firm he cofounded in 2006.
Kumar's forthright testimony could represent yet another blow for McKinsey, which came under even more intense scrutiny yesterday when prosecutors revealed the existence of a third "dirty" firm insider involved in the case.
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