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Raj Rajaratnam: The feeble defense of an insecure billionaire

May 13, 2011 | 11:50 am

Raj RajaratnamWord among most opinionators is that Raj Rajaratnam's conviction Wednesday for insider trading is a victory. There's a watchdog on Wall Street after all, they say. And for anyone still chilled from watching "Inside Job," seeing Rajaratnam head to the slammer will provide some sense of justice.

Our editorial board wrote:

This case won't satisfy the nation's hunger to hold Wall Street accountable for the financial industry collapse that triggered a deep recession and cost millions of people their jobs. But it's important in its own right for the message it sends about the day-to-day business of investors.

The New York Times editorial said:

The jury in the illegal insider trading case against Raj Rajaratnam, the billionaire founder of the Galleon Group hedge fund, did what the government has largely failed to do: hold a major Wall Street figure accountable for his reckless behavior. It is an important step toward restoring trust as a prerequisite of America's financial markets.

But not everyone is satisfied with the result. Writing for the Daily Beast, Gary Weiss had a meh reaction:

It was the biggest anticlimax in the history of Wall Street crime. […] Rajarathnam, who put up a feeble defense, was a kind of consolation prize for a public eager for the scalps of the perpetrators of the 2008 financial crisis. Instead they have to be satisfied with the Sri Lankan-born hedgie, whose crimes -- trading on inside information from firms like Goldman Sachs -- were peripheral to the agony in the markets.

And Susan Estrich of Creators Syndicate admits to feeling bad for Rajaratnam. Poor guy was just an insecure dope, she writes, referencing Rajaratnam's reputation for name-dropping and boasting:

He didn't need the money. He didn't need to brag. To have done less would have made him bigger. But only a secure man would understand that. No matter how much he made, he never got there. The insecurities that almost surely drove him to succeed also cost him that success. Some baggage will kill you if you don't find a way to leave it behind.


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Billionaire co-founder of Galleon Group Raj Rajaratnam exits Manhattan federal court May 11 in New York. Credit: Louis Lanzano / Associated Press 

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