A New York judge slapped a record $92.8 million fine on Raj Rajaratnam (54), the Sri Lankan born billionaire hedge fund manager convicted in May on 14 counts of insider trading charges. Last month Mr. Rajaratnam was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for using a network of informants to garner roughly $70 million in illicit profits.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission said that the amount was "the highest ever ordered against an individual defendant in an SEC insider trading case," and the fine imposed was over and above a $63 million that Mr. Rajaratnam had to pay in the Justice Department’s criminal case.
The action against Mr. Rajaratnam also flushed out a series of high-profile executives in several blue-chip companies in the U.S., who have subsequently been indicted on insider trading charges. The list includes Rajat Gupta and Anil Kumar of consulting firm McKinsey and Company, Rajiv Goel, Managing Director at Intel Capital, Robert Moffat, a Senior Vice President at IBM and Danielle Chiesi, a portfolio manager at New Castle Funds, a New York hedge fund.
In his decision to impose the civil fine, U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff especially highlighted "the huge and brazen nature of Rajaratnam's insider trading scheme," adding that the unprecedented case against him “cries out for the kind of civil penalty that will deprive this defendant of a material part of his fortune.
Similarly Robert Khuzami SEC Head of Enforcement division said, "The penalty imposed today reflects the historic proportions of Raj Rajaratnam’s illegal conduct and its impact on the integrity of our markets."
His words were echoed by Judge Rakoff who emphasised the signal that that SEC civil penalties ought to send out to other would-be insider traders. He said that in cases of "lucrative misconduct" such penalties were designed to make unlawful insider trading "a money-losing proposition not just for this defendant, but for all who would consider it."
Earlier Mr. Rajaratnam’s defence attempted to argue that prosecutors were overstating the amount of illegal profits that he made from the exchange of material non-public information, specifically arguing that Mr. Rajaratnam made “only $7.4 million” from insider trading and such illicit market activities.
Yet U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara however underscored that insider trading continued to be "rampant," on Wall Street and has said that individuals such as Mr. Rajaratnam were "creating a business model for a stable of insider sources... [and it] has been distressing."