Ex-IBM exec heads to court in insider trading case

After waiving his right to a grand jury, Robert Moffat is set for a Monday hearing

IBM's former server chief, Robert Moffat, is heading to court on Monday after he agreed to waive his right to a grand jury in a case related to the Galleon Group insider-training scandal, according to court documents.

The waiver sets the stage for Moffat to enter a plea in the case relating to his involvement in an insider-trading scheme that netted some stock traders millions of dollars in illicit profits.

A hearing about the waiver will be presented in front of a judge on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice said on Wednesday. Typically when a defendant agrees to waive the right of grand-jury indictment, the next step is waiving the right in front of a judge.

Moffat's lawyer, Kerry Lawrence, on Wednesday confirmed his client had waived his right for grand-jury indictment, but declined to comment on whether Moffat would plead guilty. The DOJ spokeswoman declined to comment further on the case before Monday's hearing.

The DOJ on Tuesday filed a notice of intent to bring criminal charges in the case. The charges being brought against Moffat include securities fraud and insider trading. Ten others involved in the case have already pleaded guilty for their involvement in the alleged scam.

Moffat, formerly senior vice president at IBM, was charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in October with conspiracy to commit securities fraud along with other technology-company executives and traders. In the wake of the SEC investigation, the DOJ has taken over prosecution of the case.

Moffat allegedly provided insider information when IBM was considering acquiring Sun Microsystems to Danielle Chiesi, a portfolio manager at New York-based New Castle Funds. Chiesi allegedly made trades on behalf of New Castle Funds based on the tips and generated about US$1 million in illegal profits.

The SEC also filed charges in the case against Raj Rajaratnam, a portfolio manager with hedge fund Galleon Group, who gained close to $25 million in illegal profit. Chiesi and Rajaratnam allegedly committed securities fraud jointly, according to the SEC. Both of them tapped into a network of high-ranking corporate executives and insiders to obtain confidential details about quarterly earnings and takeover activity.

The SEC also charged other technology executives including Rajiv Goel, who was Intel treasury's managing director of investments. Goel last month pled guilty in association with the case.

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