Just what Goldman did not need: a former board member of Goldman Sachs, Rajat Gupta has been charged by the SEC with insider trading, related to the Galleon insider trading scheme. It seems, Gupta was also tipped off about Berkshire’s $5 billion investment in Goldman.
From the release:
Washington, D.C., March 1, 2011 – The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced insider trading charges against a Westport, Conn.-based business consultant who has served on the boards of directors at Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble for illegally tipping Galleon Management founder and hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam with inside information about the quarterly earnings at both firms as well as an impending $5 billion investment by Berkshire Hathaway in Goldman.
The SEC’s Division of Enforcement alleges that Rajat K. Gupta, a friend and business associate of Rajaratnam, provided him with confidential information learned during board calls and in other aspects of his duties on the Goldman and P&G boards. Rajaratnam used the inside information to trade on behalf of some of Galleon’s hedge funds, or shared the information with others at his firm who then traded on it ahead of public announcements by the firms. The insider trading by Rajaratnam and others generated more than $18 million in illicit profits and loss avoidance. Gupta was at the time a direct or indirect investor in at least some of these Galleon hedge funds, and had other potentially lucrative business interests with Rajaratnam.
The SEC has previously charged Rajaratnam and others in the widespread insider trading scheme involving the Galleon hedge funds.
“Gupta was honored with the highest trust of leading public companies, and he betrayed that trust by disclosing their most sensitive and valuable secrets,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Directors who violate the sanctity of board room confidences for private gain will be held to account for their illegal actions.”
In the order that institutes administrative and cease-and-desist proceedings against Gupta, the SEC’s Division of Enforcement alleges that, while a member of Goldman’s Board of Directors, Gupta tipped Rajaratnam about Berkshire Hathaway’s $5 billion investment in Goldman and Goldman’s upcoming public equity offering before that information was publicly announced on Sept. 23, 2008. Gupta called Rajaratnam immediately after a special telephonic meeting at which Goldman’s Board considered and approved Berkshire’s investment in Goldman Sachs and the public equity offering. Within a minute after the Gupta-Rajaratnam call and just minutes before the close of the markets, Rajaratnam arranged for Galleon funds to purchase more than 175,000 Goldman shares. Rajaratnam later informed another participant in the scheme that he received the tip on which he traded only minutes before the market close. Rajaratnam caused the Galleon funds to liquidate their Goldman holdings the following day after the information became public, making illicit profits of more than $900,000.
The SEC’s Division of Enforcement alleges that Gupta also illegally disclosed to Rajaratnam inside information about Goldman Sachs’s positive financial results for the second quarter of 2008. Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein called Gupta and various other Goldman outside directors on June 10, when the company’s financial performance was significantly better than analysts’ consensus estimates. Blankfein knew the earnings numbers and discussed them with Gupta during the call. Between that night and the following morning, there was a flurry of calls between Gupta and Rajaratnam. Shortly after the last of these calls and within minutes after the markets opened on June 11, Rajaratnam caused certain Galleon funds to purchase more than 5,500 out-of-the-money Goldman call options and more than 350,000 Goldman shares. Rajaratnam liquidated these positions on or around June 17, when Goldman made its quarterly earnings announcement. These transactions generated illicit profits of more than $13.6 million for the Galleon funds.
The Division of Enforcement further alleges that Gupta tipped Rajaratnam with confidential information that he learned during a board posting call about Goldman’s impending negative financial results for the fourth quarter of 2008. The call ended after the close of the market on October 23, with senior executives informing the board of the company’s financial situation. Mere seconds after the board call, Gupta called Rajaratnam, who then arranged for certain Galleon funds to begin selling their Goldman holdings shortly after the financial markets opened the following day until the funds finished selling off their holdings, which had consisted of more than 120,000 shares. In discussing trading and market information that day with another participant in the insider trading scheme, Rajaratnam explained that while Wall Street expected Goldman Sachs to earn $2.50 per share, he had heard the prior day from a Goldman Sachs board member that the company was actually going to lose $2 per share. As a result of Rajaratnam’s trades based on the inside information that Gupta provided, the Galleon funds avoided losses of more than $3 million.
As it pertains to insider trades by the Galleon funds in the securities of Procter & Gamble, the Division of Enforcement alleges that Gupta illegally disclosed to Rajaratnam inside information about the company financial results for the quarter ending December 2008. Gupta participated in a telephonic meeting of P&G’s Audit Committee at 9 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2009, to discuss the planned release of P&G’s quarterly earnings the next day. A draft of the earnings release, which had been mailed to Gupta and the other committee members two days before the meeting, indicated that P&G’s expected organic sales would be less than previously publicly predicted. Gupta called Rajaratnam in the early afternoon on January 29, and Rajaratnam shortly afterward advised another participant in the insider trading conspiracy that he had learned from a contact on P&G’s board that the company’s organic sales growth would be lower than expected. Galleon funds then sold short approximately 180,000 P&G shares, making illicit profits of more than $570,000.