|By Maureen O'Gara||
|October 22, 2009 07:15 AM EDT||
Galleon Group, the $3.7 billion hedge fund at the center of the insider trading ring that the government, its wire taps and a reportedly secret SEC data-mining project exposed last Friday, is liquidating its funds and shutting down following what amounts to a run on the bank, according to a letter sent to its investors Wednesday.
Buyers are reportedly at the ready. Galleon has big positions in Google among others and was one of the three biggest technology hedge funds. If it dumps its stock, it could bring prices down.
Robert Moffat, the senior IBM executive responsible for the company’s $5.4 billion hardware business who personally transmitted an acquisition offer letter to Sun on IBM’s behalf earlier this year, was indicted last week along with five other conspirators in the scheme and is out on $2 million bail.
Described in a Wall Street Journal piece as the “quintessential IBMer,” Moffat, now on leave from the company, reportedly intends to plead innocent to charges that he divulged quarters’ worth of material insider information on IBM and Sun earnings as well as details of AMD’s joint venture deal with Abu Dhabi to Danielle Chiesi, an employee of New Castle Partners, another hedge fund, who both traded on the information herself and passed it to Galleon.
Supposedly Moffat didn’t profit financially from the trades. It’s unclear how his lawyer Kerry Lawrence will explain his alleged actions – trying to impress a girl maybe? They’d better come up with something more bullet-proof. He’s been charged with conspiracy to commit securities fraud and could do five years.
Galleon founder Raj Rajaratnam, who planned to leave the company last Friday which explains his arrest, is out on $100 million bail. He is one of the richest men in the world with a net worth of around $1.3 billion.
The New York Times figures Galleon lost $30 million on the allegedly illegal trades, mostly on the 16 million shares of AMD it bought for $85 million-$90 million, wiping out the $20 million supposedly made on the rest of them.
The Boston Global says investigators plan to charge at least 10 more securities professionals with insider trading. They would have all probably been caught up in the dragnet if the government didn’t have move quickly last week to prevent Rajaratnam from fleeing the country.
One question – aside from motive remains – why was Moffat, the guy who sold IBM’s PC unit to Lenovo, allowed to turn himself in and escape the perp walk Rajaratnam and Chiesi were exposed to? Arrangements had to have been made ahead of time. The SEC’s civil complaint means to see that if nothing else he’s never again an officer of a publicly traded company.
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