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Raj Rajaratnam, arrested for insider trading, also linked to Sri Lanka case

Raj Rajaratnam, who was arrested Friday for insider trading in the US, is also linked to a money-transfer case in Sri Lanka.

By Staff writer, Contributor / October 16, 2009

Galleon hedge-fund partner Raj Rajaratnam was escorted by FBI agents in New York Oct. 16 in what authorities are calling the largest insider-trading case against a hedge fund.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters

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The world's 559th wealthiest individual and hedge-fund owner, who was arrested in New York Friday for insider trading, is not just in trouble with US authorities. Raj Rajaratnam, founder of the Galleon Group, is also connected with an indictment against a Sri Lankan member of Parliament and two others, according to the Daily Mirror of Sri Lanka.

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The MP and his two accomplices were indicted for depositing $3 million in a private Sri Lankan bank without informing the nation's central bank, a violation of Sri Lanka's banking rules. According to the indictment, $1 million of the funds came directly from Galleon on Dec. 22, 2006, and $2 million were deposited by Mr. Rajaratnam on Jan. 3, 2007. The funds were intended to purchase shares in the Union Bank of Sri Lanka, according to the Mirror.

Rajaratnam,, a Tamil born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and widely regarded as a Wall Street wonder boy for perpetual returns over 10 percent, was not indicted in that case. The trial, scheduled to begin Sept. 25, has been postponed until February.

In the US case, federal investigators closed in on Rajaratnam through a series of wiretaps. Authorities say that the case against Rajaratnam and five codefendants is the largest ever against a hedge fund.

“He is not a master of the universe,” said Robert Khuzami, director of enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission, at a press conference Friday and reported by the New York Times' DealBook blog. “He is a master of the Rolodex.” According to the indictment, Rajaratnam and his codefendants "routinely received inside information directly or indirectly from insiders and provided it to each other for the purpose of trading based on the information," netting more than $20 million in illegal profits in 2006 and 2007.

Rajaratnam alone racked up more than $12.7 million in illegal profits for Galleon by trading on insider knowledge about companies including Hilton Hotels, Google, Akamai, and Advanced Micro Devices, according to the FBI.

While his wealth may seem astronomical, Rajaratnam is at the "lower" end of all-star fund managers in terms of income, banking "only" $200 million in 2008, for example, when some managers were hauling in over a billion.In Sri Lanka, Rajaratnam was known as a leading example of Tamils who left the country and prospered overseas. After the 2004 tsunami hit the coast, he set up a charity in the country and urged others to contribute funds for rebuilding. Last month, he put up $1 million to fund reintegration programs for Tamil Tiger fighters whose rebellion was crushed earlier this year.