29 October 2011

"Every Bloody Indian Cooperated with the Government," Rajaratnam

Raj Rajaratnam, head of the Galleon Group hedge fund, who has recently been sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for insider trading, feels that he has been seduced and betrayed by people from India.

In an interview with the Newsweek magazine's Suketu Mehta, he said, "Every bloody Indian (whom he trusted) cooperated," with the FBI to nail him.



The Sri Lankan-born self-made billionaire founded his own hedge fund in 1997, which had an exponential growth over the years to be the biggest technology-based hedge fund on the planet by 2008 and he established himself as the richest Sri Lankan in the world.

However, Suketu Mehta writes, "Part of Rajaratnam's narrative is that of a man from a smaller South Asian country seduced and betrayed by people from the Big Brother country."

Today as he faces an 11 year long stay in prison, his immediate answer to the question "Did you regret anything?, was, "I'd probably not be so trusting of people" referring to his Wharton classmates Anil Kumar and Rajiv Goel, both pleaded guilty under prosecutorial pressure.

The betrayal by the Indian associates hurts the most and he barely mentions the white government witnesses. He regrets doing a joint venture with the Indians, writes the interviewer.

Talking about their plan to start an Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, Rajaratnam said, "I gave them [the school] a million dollars. I later found out they never contributed any of their money, and are listed as the school's founders. And I'm not even a fucking Indian."

Talking on his fellow accused and the Indian friends' decision to plead guilty, he said, "There are two types of plea bargains. One is you cooperate with the government. You finger 10 other people. The other is a plea bargain without cooperation. The white defendants all pleaded without cooperating; they did not wear a wire. The South Asians all did the plea bargain with fingering. The Americans stood their ground. Every bloody Indian cooperated - Goel, Khan, Kumar."

He also claimed that he was heavily pressured to wear a wire to trap Rajat Gupta, Former Goldman Sachs director but said he couldn't do that. "They wanted me to plea-bargain. They want to get Rajat. I am not going to do what people did to me. Rajat has four daughters," he told the Mehta.

Immigrants Vs Natives
Suketu Mehta sensed the anger in Rajaratnam caused by the ethnic disparities in the U.S. and the Wester world and wrote. "When it came to the biggest bet of his life, this master of information was guided as he saw it by the political history of his people, his personal journey as a dark-skinned immigrant through the rich countries. Rajaratnam is an immigrant, not American-born. He had grown up, as he tells it, in fear: of the Sinhalese majority in his homeland; of the skinheads in Britain where he'd studied; and of the established elites of Wall Street where he did business. At just about every stage of his life, there were people out to get him. And he says, "I saw myself as an underdog."

While it's a questionable issue if his ethnicity is a factor in the process of investigation and ensuing trial, the strong man recollects the words of FBI agent B. J. Kang who upon taking him away from his home in October 26, 2009 told him, 'Take a good look at your son. You're not going to see him for a long time. Your wife doesn't seem so upset. Because she's going to spend all your money."

Rajaratnam, a fearless fighter and an underdog as he claims, also gives a short glimpse of his life in Briton during his younger years. He experienced the bitter tastes of immigrant discrimination and said, "I was conscious of the fact that I could be attacked because of my ethnicity."

As a pioneer on Wall Street, he says, "Wall Street was tough to get into for us. Not to be crude, but there's a Jewish mafia, and a WASP mafia, and an Irish mafia up in Boston. We didn't grow up reading The Wall Street Journal. We didn't have someone who knew someone who could give us an interview. We didn't have the domain knowledge; we were all foreigners. Americans had the connections."

However, his brother Rengan had a different take on it. "For years these guys were sitting around in sports clubs and exchanging information. That wasn't a crime. And now we immigrants do the same thing and it is?" he asks the interviewer.