Recent Insider Trading Scandal Reeks of Tech Management Involvement

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2009-10-26

If you haven't read about the fascinating tale of alleged insider trading by Raj Rajaratnam of Galleon Group, IBM Senior Vice President Robert Moffatt, Rajiv Goel from Intel Capital and others that recently erupted out of Wall Street, you have missed a fairly elaborate scheme between hedge fund managers and technology management insiders, according to the Department of Justice.

Technology companies with stock that was affected by the insider trading included IBM, Sun Microsystems, Google, Intel, Advanced Micro Devices, Clearwire, Akamai, Polycom and PeopleSupport.

The DOJ indicated that at the root of this scandal for some parties was the desire for a good, new job in exchange for information about business deals and other earnings-related information that allowed a few hedge fund managers to reap a boatload of money.

The government was listening via wiretap, said reports by the SEC .

The NY Times wrote on Goel of Intel Capital's motivation:

One defendant, Rajiv Goel of Los Altos, Calif., told Mr. Rajaratnam in March 2008 that he was tired of working at Intel and would exchange information about a potential investment by the company in Clearwire for a job with one of Mr. Rajaratnam's "powerful friends." Mr. Rajaratnam made a profit of $579,000 from trading in Clearwire stock.

The NY Times also reported on another alleged hedge fund assailant that may have helped both of them rake in the dough:

One main player in the scheme was Danielle Chiesi, a former Bear Stearns executive who worked at another hedge fund, New Castle Partners. She is accused of supplying tips about companies like Akamai and Sun Microsystems to Mr. Rajaratnam and of illegally trading on the information for her firm.

Closely cooperating with Ms. Chiesi was Mark Kurland, a former senior executive at Bear Stearns Asset Management who is now New Castle's president and lives in Mount Kisco, N.Y.

Prosecutors say the scheme produced some wildly successful investments. Information leaked about Google's quarterly results in July 2007 led Mr. Rajaratnam to bet against the company. The trade led to an $8 million profit.

The Google information came from an unnamed source who worked for the company handling Google's investor relations, according to court documents the NY Times published.

Another mystery in the legal documents is an unnamed Akamai executive who allegedly gave information to Chiesi that was later traded on. From the court documents filed, here is a sliver of the kind of information discovered through the wiretap (from July 24, 2008, Chiesi telling Rajaratnam about what the Akamai executive said):

"Akamai... I'm trading it tomorrow... They're gonna guide down. I just got a call from my guy... I was taking about family and everything, and then he said people think it's gonna go to 25 [dollars per share]. They print on Wednesday." CHIESI told Rajaratnam that she would explain later "how she got this guy to trust me again." CHIESI said that she was talking to him about the family and how "you're the only person in the family that helps me." He then said, " the way, we're gonna guide down on Wednesday... We're gonna guide down a lot. People internally are saying it's gonna go to 25 [dollars per share], our stock..."

Both Chiesi and Rajaratnam proceeded to short Akamai stock before the lowered earnings expectations were announced, which reportedly made them serious bank.

A number of participants are expected to have made deals with the government for lesser criminal deals for their participation in the investigation.

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