Galleon US insider trading trial begins

image captionMr Rajaratnam was met by photographers and camera crews as he arrived at court

Jury selection in the long-awaited trial of billionaire hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam on charges of insider trading has begun in New York.

Judge Richard Holwell has told jurors that Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein is on a list of witnesses who may be called to testify.

Mr Rajaratnam, who was arrested in October 2009, has pleaded not guilty to the charges laid against him.

Some 150 potential jurors were questioned by Judge Holwell.

Mr Rajaratnam was met by photographers and camera crews as he arrived at the New York court for jury selection.

He has been free on bail of $100m. If found guilty, he could face more than 20 years in jail.

Judge Holwell said he expected opening statements to take place on Wednesday.

Phone taps

The New York federal prosecutor has described the case as the "largest hedge fund insider trading case in history".

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said in its complaint filed earlier this year that the case involved "widespread and repeated insider trading" at a number of hedge funds, including Galleon.

According to the SEC, the alleged unlawful trading involved the use of inside information on companies including Google, Hilton Hotels and Intel.

Incidents cited in court documents describe the passing of information on takeovers or company results before they were publicly released.

Mr Rajaratnam then traded on that information, often on behalf of Galleon, the SEC alleges.

Mr Rajaratnam founded the Galleon Group hedge fund, which managed about $7bn at the time of his arrest.

His personal wealth has been estimated at about $1.3bn.

More than a dozen people, including employees of some of America's biggest companies, including IBM and Intel, have been criminally or civilly charged in the complex case.

So far 19 have pleaded guilty.

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