Rajat Gupta likely to testify at own trial

Jun 16 2012, 14:50 IST
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Rajat Gupta. Reuters Rajat Gupta. Reuters
SummaryGupta is accused of illegally leaking corporate secrets to now-imprisoned hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam.

Former Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) board member Rajat Gupta will likely testify in his own defense at the insider trading trial in which he is accused of illegally leaking corporate secrets to now-imprisoned hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam.

The likelihood of Gupta giving his version of events was revealed in a series of exchanges between the judge and his main defense lawyer in U.S. District Court in New York on Friday afternoon after the jury had been sent home for the weekend.

"It's highly likely my client will testify," the lawyer, Gary Naftalis, told Judge Jed Rakoff.

Naftalis cautioned that Gupta may change his mind about testifying, but the judge said the defense must notify federal prosecutors in a timely way. Rakoff said he expected all of Tuesday to be taken up with Gupta's testimony. The trial began on May 21 and closing arguments are expected on Wednesday.

Gupta's decision, while relatively rare, is not unprecedented in high profile white collar crime trials. Chief executives such as WorldCom's Bernie Ebbers, Tyco's TCY.N Dennis Kozlowski and Enron's Jeffrey Skilling, each took the stand at their trials. The were all convicted.

Gupta, 63, is fighting charges that he illegally divulged financial information to his one-time friend and business associate, Galleon Group founder Rajaratnam, between March 2007 and January 2009 while serving on the boards of Goldman and Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N).

Rajaratnam, who was convicted last year and is serving an 11-year prison term, opted not to testify in his own defense. If convicted on charges of securities fraud and conspiracy, Gupta faces a possible maximum 25 years in prison.

The jury has heard about Gupta's humble beginnings in India and his rise to the upper echelons of the global corporate elite. He headed business management consultancy McKinsey & Co for nine years and is associated with philanthropies combatting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

Through his lawyers, Gupta contends the government's case is circumstantial and speculative. Gupta and Rajaratnam had a falling out in 2008 and Gupta lost all of a $10 million investment with Galleon, according to the defense.

On Friday, the jury watched a video deposition by Berkshire Hathaway (BRKa.N) senior insurance executive Ajit Jain, who said he knew Gupta socially. At one of their occasional lunches on January 12, 2009 in Stamford, Connecticut, Gupta told him about losing money with Rajaratnam, Jain testified.

"I remember that he told me had been jipped, cheated by Rajaratnam and lost $10

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