US prosecutors want maximum prison sentence for Rajaratnam

US prosecutors want maximum prison sentence for Rajaratnam

Federal prosecutors yesterday filed a 56-page 'Government's Sentencing Memorandum' recommending a "very substantial term of imprisonment proportionate to the historic nature of his crime."

Separately, the defence submitted its own 79-page memo asking for a lenient prison term "substantially below" the recommended guidelines saying a lengthy prison term would "seriously threaten his well-being" and would be "a death sentence."

The defence memo also referred to Rajaratnam's health problems, describing them as "a unique constellation of ailments ravaging his body."

Federal prosecutors termed Sri Lanka-born Rajaratnam, 54, as the "modern face of illegal insider trading" saying "he is arguably the most egregious violator of the  laws against insider trading ever to be caught."

Their memo said the court should impose the maximum sentence of 235 to 293 months established for his crime under nonbinding sentencing guidelines, a ruling that will "deter others in the hedge fund and money management world from engaging in a crime that is far too rampant."

The memo was submitted to Judge Richard Holwell, who is scheduled to sentence Rajaratnam on September 27. Rajaratnam's lawyers argue that he should get a lenient sentence because he was "already keenly aware that the consequences of insider trading can include the destruction of one's business and reputation, exposure to scorn and public obloquy and the complete loss of personal dignity and privacy to government surveillance and the media's microscope."

However, the government countered saying Rajaratnam reaped at least USD 64 million in illegal profits from insider trading.

Prosecutors said the sentence was appropriate because Rajaratnam's "criminal conduct was brazen, arrogant, harmful and pervasive.    "

"Such a sentence is necessary to punish Rajaratnam for his extensive criminal activities, and to send a clear and unambiguous message to hedge funds and money managers that insider trading will not be tolerated," said Jonathan Streeter, an assistant United States attorney, in the memo.

Rajaratnam's lawyers, on their part, said their client had been portrayed "as the poster child for every wrongful act that has ever been associated with Wall Street."
"Rajaratnam understands that he has been convicted of serious offenses. But the evidence at trial showed that Rajaratnam was not the 'mastermind' of an insider-trading network, as the government and the press have painted him," Rajaratnam's lawyer John Dowd said.

"The Raj Rajaratnam who emerges from the evidence before the court — including the hundreds of letters submitted on his behalf — bears scant resemblance to the greedy criminal kingpin the government attempts to portray."Dowd added that "with the sole, and significant, exception of his criminal conviction in this case, the evidence shows that Rajaratnam lived a life  that was not just blameless, but exemplary."

The memo highlighted Rajaratnam's 45 million dollars worth philanthropic gifts.
While the defence's memo argues that Rajaratnam’s crimes did not harm anybody, the government’s memo states Rajaratnam "corrupted" old friends, subordinates and markets.

"Day after day, month after month, year after year, Rajaratnam operated a billion-dollar force of deception and corruption on Wall Street."

Rajaratnam was convicted in May on 14 criminal counts of conspiracy and securities fraud.

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