Gupta Prosecutors Release List of Potential Witnesses

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chairman Lloyd Blankfein and President Gary Cohn are among the people whose names may emerge or be called as witnesses at the insider-trading trial of Rajat Gupta, prosecutors said.

Gupta, 63, a former Goldman Sachs director, is scheduled to go on trial May 21, accused of giving former Galleon Group LLC co-founder Raj Rajaratnam nonpublic information about Goldman Sachs as well as Procter & Gamble Co. Gupta, who has pleaded not guilty, is charged with five counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy. The securities fraud carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison.

More than 50 names were submitted by prosecutors to U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan in a package of proposed questions for potential jurors next week. Gupta submitted a list of 116 names that included Blankfein and Cohn, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett, and best-selling author Deepak Chopra, who is the founder of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. Both lists were made public today.

Rakoff has said he has asked for 100 prospective jurors to be summoned to court for the first day of the trial and said opening arguments could be heard later the same day.

Jennifer Padovani, a Goldman Sachs director, is also on the government’s list, as is Steven Peikin, a lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP who advises the New York-based bank.

‘Certain Statements’

At a pretrial conference yesterday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Reed Brodsky told Rakoff that Peikin’s testimony “will relate to certain statements made by Mr. Gupta in an interview.”

Brodsky didn’t provide other details and declined to comment further after court yesterday.

Michael DuVally, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, declined to comment on the witness list. Chris Mumma, a spokesman for Gupta, also declined to comment.

Representatives from companies affected by the alleged insider-trading scheme are on the list, including Alan “A.G.” Lafley, the former chairman of Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble, who retired in 2010, and Jon Moeller, P&G’s chief financial officer.

Sarah Trite, a spokeswoman for Lafley, said he had no comment.

“We have been cooperating fully with government investigators on this case including potentially giving oral evidence if required,” Paul Fox, a spokesman for P&G, said in an e-mail. He referred other questions to prosecutors and Gupta’s attorney.

Former Galleon Executives

Former Galleon executives are also on the government’s list, including Raj Rajaratnam and his younger brother, Rengan; Galleon co-founder Gary Rosenbach; Ian Horowitz, who was Raj Rajaratnam’s trader; and Michael Cardillo, a former Galleon portfolio manager.

Anil Kumar, a former McKinsey & Co. partner who pleaded guilty to insider trading and testified as a government witness at Rajaratnam’s trial last year is also the list. Gupta ran McKinsey, a consulting firm, from 1994 to 2003.

Among those on Gupta’s list are Goldman Sachs director Claes Dahlback and Berkshire Hathaway reinsurance chief Ajit Jain, a close friend of Gupta. The two were identified in a hearing before Rakoff in January as possible defense witnesses.

Carrie Kizer, a Berkshire Hathaway spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment.

In the January hearing, a prosecutor told Rakoff that Dahlback, who is a former chief executive officer of Sweden’s Investor AB, spoke to Gupta after Rajaratnam’s October 2009 arrest.

‘Bad Man’

“Dahlback asked Gupta if Gupta knew Rajaratnam,” Rakoff said, quoting a memo summarizing Dahlback’s June interview with the government. “Gupta responded that ‘Rajaratnam was a bad man.’ Gupta further stated Gupta lost money with Rajaratnam,” Rakoff said, summarizing the witness report.

Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, is also named on Gupta’s list. Mittal has a net worth of $16.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world’s 40 richest people.

The list included friends and family of Gupta, among them his wife, Anita Gupta, and daughter, Geetanjali Gupta.

Prosecutors asked the judge to inform potential jurors that they will hear from a witness “who was involved in the offenses charged in the indictment and has pleaded guilty to crimes and entered into a cooperation agreement.” They asked Rakoff to inquire if potential jurors would have difficulty accepting testimony from such a person.

The case is U.S. v. Gupta, 11-cr-00907, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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