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In defence of accused hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam

by Andrew Clark - Guardian UK

My coverage of Raj Rajaratnam, the Wall Street hedge fund manager accused of orchestrating a sophisticated insider trading ring with tipsters at firms such as IBM and Intel, has prompted an email from an acquaintance of the accused who says the Sri Lankan-born billionaire is not the "ogre" he is being made out to be.

Vijay Dandapani, chief executive of a budget hospitality company in Manhattan called Apple Core Hotels, writes to say that he was invited by Rajaratnam on a cricket trip a few years back and has since seen him "off and on" in New York.

"I do know Raj, though not well, and find it hard to believe that he is the ogre he is being made out to be," says Dandapani.

"All I can say with certainty is that I came away with the impression that he is a stellar individual on many counts, not least of it being probity on a personal level," he continues. "I do know others who know him far better who have recounted stories of his seemingly endless personal generosity while, at the same time, striving to keep his wealth and stature out of the social mix."

Rajaratanam was arrested alongside five others on October 16 and charged with 13 criminal counts of fraud and conspiracy, through alleged insider tips that produced profits of $20m for his Galleon Group hedge fund, which is winding down after an abrupt exodus of clients.

In court papers, the department for justice said it swooped on Rajaratnam because the financier had become suspicious, correctly, that one of his associates was wearing a wire. The feds moved in as Rajaratnam was preparing to catch a flight out of New York's Kennedy airport to London, and then on to Switzerland.

The Rajaratnam camp argues that there was nothing fishy about this trip, and that he certainly wasn't fleeing justice. Those around him told Bloomberg News that he was heading to London to explore an AIM flotation of his hedge fund and to see a movie he had invested in, called "Today's Special", at the London Film Festival. His Swiss travel plans, according to sources close to Rajaratnam, were to meet investors in Geneva.

Rajaratnam, who is ranked by Forbes as the world's 551st richest man, is facing a litany of lawsuits. His business is liquidating and he has been accused by one group of litigants of channelling money to the Tamil Tigers in the country of his birth. We've not heard much of his side of the story yet. But this is proving to be an intriguing saga.

source: The Guardian UK


This may be just another episode in the cut throat competition of international finance. Insider trading and information is the name of the game in most stockmarkets. Otherwise who would invest without knowing. Many a business deal in the corporate world is made and sealed at a personal level over a drink at the club. Money laundering, bribery and corruption are part and parcel of the world of business. Add political patronage and illegal activities to obtain a cutting edge. The disciples of Mammon survive.

Posted by: SriLankan | October 25, 2009 10:55 PM

So I am not wrong - after all. Sri Lanka is not the only place he invested. In
view of the unfortunate developments after his arrest, it is unlikely he will
feel the same warmth and enthusiasm to help as before. But first let's see
how the whole drama works out.


Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | October 26, 2009 08:41 AM

Some Big players in Stock Markets worl wide do insider trading.Mr Rajaratnam was unlucky to get caught, if the information divulged so far is correct. However, he still has to be tried and convicted.If guity, he would not have been a smart operator although he made money in the market.

I do not believe that he was an LTTE supporter as some claim.He has donated funds to election campaigns in the US .He has helped Srilanka with money for refugee resettlement.What ever money he gave the TRO was also part of these contributions that big Business people like Rajaratnam do make.

People like Rajaratnam would have contributed a lot to the post LTTE development of the Srlankan economy.An investment fund of the order of US $200 Million that was mentioned would have been a real boost to the Srilankan Companies and the Stock market.

Posted by: Praveen | October 27, 2009 01:40 AM

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