Instant view: Rajaratnam found guily of insider trading (Reuters)James A. Cohen in Daily News Blog, May 11, 2011
By Robert Pradel
JON NAJARIAN, FOUNDER OF WEB INFORMATION SITE
“I think it was an appropriate verdict. I guess through some high-profile cases, not in securities but mainly in other criminal activities, like for instance, the OJ trial, people have thought that obvious guilt will be overlooked by some juries. This was not the case this time. The jury did a good job. I haven’t seen any move in volatility and the market. Had it not come out this way, then given how obvious it seemed to most of us that the guy was guilty, there could have been extreme negative reaction in the market.”
MATT MCCORMICK, PORTFOLIO MANAGER AT BAHL & GAYNOR
INVESTMENT COUNSEL IN CINCINNATI, WHICH HAS ABOUT $3.6 BILLION
OF ASSETS UNDER MANAGEMENT
“Most people anticipated this. It looks like it was a pretty clear-cut decision. If they’ve got wiretaps on you, they’ve got you. Look at the implications of this: expert networking and other grey areas of research will be called into question. People will be much more careful.
“There is such a thing as doing real gumshoe work and using the mosaic theory, and then there’s information-gathering that’s more nefarious. This verdict will force people to take that extra step to make sure they are in the clear.”
JOE SALUZZI, CO-MANAGER OF TRADING, THEMIS TRADING,
CHATHAM, NEW JERSEY
“There is no market reaction. (But) it’s the talk of the Street, no doubt about it.
“It’s certainly another black eye for Wall Street. No doubt about it. Whether it’s computerized trading — basically sniffing and seeing orders beforehand, or guys like this who are getting information, this is more confidence-shaking for investors.
“I think a lot of Main Street is fed up with Wall Street, and certainly this doesn’t help.”
FRED DICKSON, CHIEF MARKET STRATEGIST, THE DAVIDSON COS.,
LAKE OSWEGO, OREGON:
“I think that probably will be viewed positively by the public at large and the investing public. People that have tried to take and capitalize on insider trading, which is illegal, should be punished. The only surprise to me was that it took 12 days.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any market reaction. It may be a minor confidence boost on the part of the investing public that the enforcement and regulatory authorities are monitoring… It should be a modest boost to investor confidence. It’s hard to draw anything else out of it.”
DAN SEIVER, PROFESSOR OF FINANCE, SAN DIEGO STATE
UNIVERSITY, SAN DIEGO
“I think there is no doubt he should have been found guilty. This could be the tip of the iceberg. This gives prosecutors the green light to pursue other cases.
“The honest hedge fund managers should breathe a sigh of relief. This will make the competition fairer. We need to have a leveled playing field even though the perception is that it’s not. Ordinary investors would have a better chance now because these big fish who cheat could no longer do so. Because when they cheat and make money, the other side of these trades are hammered because they don’t have the insider information.
“That’s why we need these laws and cases to level the playing field. That’s why it’s good that’s he was nailed.”
KEITH WIRTZ, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER AT FIFTH THIRD ASSET
MANAGEMENT, WITH $18 BILLION IN ASSETS
“This is good news. The outcome may help improve the image of the capital markets — the bubbles, the swings, and the notion that things are rigged. A whole generation of investors has been permanently scarred and the news of a ‘cheater’ being dealt with may help on the margin. The SEC has suffered through some image blows of late. This news may rekindle some confidence in this regulator. I am not sure that the SEC should be expanding regulatory burdens as much as they should be enforcing existing regs.”
MICHAEL KOBLENZ, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, WHITE-COLLAR
DEFENSE LAWYER AT MOUND COTTON WOLLAN & GREENGRASS
“When that many people pleaded guilty in advance, I’m surprised it went to trial. I’m surprised they didn’t try to work out a deal. But if you’ve got the money and you want to take a shot, maybe it was worth it to him.
“I’m sure his lawyer said, ‘You can spend this much on a defense and see what happens, and if you don’t win, then maybe you’ll win on appeal.’ Maybe they’ll get a reversal, but I have no idea.
“Millions of dollars were spent on this case, no question about it. But I guess he took a shot. It will be interesting to see what the sentencing will be.”
JAMES COHEN, PROFESSOR AT FORDHAM UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW
“It’s almost impossible to get an acquittal when the people testifying against you have pled guilty to the same crimes they’re testifying about.”
JEFF IFRAH OF LAW FIRM IFRAH LAW IN WASHINGTON
“This case represents another case where a very wealthy defendant had some credible defenses and lost when confronted with the government machine.
“I don’t think there’s anything precedent-setting about this.
“I think it’s very difficult for the jury to properly assess the evidence in an insider-trading case, because what constitutes non-public information is very complicated. I don’t think juries can understand what’s truly inside information, and whether the defendant had the intent to trade on that information, which is also a very complicated factual question.
“He’s easily looking at 20 years or more. I think the judge has the discretion to do anything he wants in this case. If we see a harsh sentence here, I think that reflects what the judge believes he saw of the evidence.”
DAN RICHMAN, PROFESSOR AT COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL
“The combination of this conviction with the numerous guilty pleas in the case suggest … the seriousness with which the government will be pursuing insider trading.
“Where you have tapes and extensive testimony of the sort you had in this trial, a responsible jury will review them.”