A number of people other than Rajat Gupta could have leaked confidential information about Procter & Gamble Co's sale of its Folgers coffee unit in 2008, Gupta's lawyer implied to the jury at his insider-trading trial on Tuesday.
Gupta, a former director at P&G and Goldman Sachs Group Inc, is accused in US District Court in Manhattan of telling now-imprisoned hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam about the $3 billion Folgers sale to J.M. Smucker & Co before it was publicly announced on June 4, 2008.
In his questioning of P&G Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller, defense lawyer Gary Naftalis mentioned press leaks of the Folgers transaction and the array of lawyers, investment bankers, external-relations advisers and corporate tax specialists who worked on the deal.
"So there were all of these people working on the transaction in addition to the Smucker's people, true?" Naftalis asked Moeller, who responded: "Yes, that's true."
Gupta, 63, also a former global head of management consulting firm McKinsey & Co, is the most prominent corporate figure indicted in the US government's recent crackdown on insider trading. He is charged with giving Rajaratnam tips involving Goldman and P&G between March 2007 and January 2009.
Gupta, who was arrested last October, has pleaded not guilty and argues that the prosecution's evidence is circumstantial.
One of the main defense arguments is that Galleon Group hedge fund founder Rajaratnam had a network of sources providing him with inside information. Rajaratnam, 53, was convicted a year ago on evidence largely based on court-approved wiretaps of his phones. He is appealing the use of wiretaps as he serves an 11-year prison term, the longest handed down for insider trading in the United States.
CALLS TO RAJARATNAM
Prosecutors also contend that the day before P&G announced quarterly earnings in January 2009, Gupta called Rajaratnam from Davos, Switzerland, and told him that P&G expected its organic sales to grow 2% to 5% for the fiscal year, less than the guidance previously provided to the market.
Moeller, who was called as a prosecution witness, testified under questioning by Assistant US Attorney Richard Tarlowe that the sales information was confidential until the company made an announcement to the public.
Also on Tuesday, a second juror on the 12-member panel dropped out of the trial due to a family emergency.
Juror No. 4, an executive assistant at a hospital, was excused and replaced by an alternate, a marketing manager for a publishing company. The place of juror No. 12, a professor of strategic design and behavior, was taken on Thursday by another of the four alternates, a retired librarian, also due to a family emergency.
The trial, which began May 21, is expected to run about three weeks. To convict Gupta of insider trading, the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that he breached his fiduciary duties and that he did it intentionally and in anticipation of at least some modest benefit in return.