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Prosecutors acknowledged Wednesday that a senior Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) salesman shared information about three technology companies with former hedge-fund manager Raj Rajaratnam.
The government's disclosure that David Loeb, a senior Goldman salesman, may have provided information about Intel Corp. (INTC), Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) emerged at the trial of former Goldman board member Rajat Gupta, who is accused of providing inside information about the investment bank to Mr. Rajaratnam, who was convicted and sentenced last year in his own insider-trading trial.
The discussion of Mr. Loeb could bolster the defense's strategy. Lawyers for Mr. Gupta have argued that other Goldman employees--rather than their client--may have provided confidential information about Goldman to Mr. Rajaratnam, co-founder of Galleon Group, about the investment bank.
"Mr. Loeb, the evidence will show, provided Intel, Apple and Hewlett-Packard information to Mr. Rajaratnam," Assistant U.S. Attorney Reed Brodsky said. "There is no evidence, zero, none from the government and none from the defense in any way, shape or form that Mr. Loeb had access to material nonpublic information" about Goldman's earnings or the $5 billion investment by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRKA, BRKB), some of the tips allegedly provided by Mr. Gupta.
Mr. Loeb hasn't been charged criminally. Mr. Loeb wasn't available for comment.
Federal prosecutors have accused Mr. Gupta, 63 years old, of leaking corporate secrets to Mr. Rajaratnam when Mr. Gupta was on the boards of Goldman and Procter & Gamble Co. (PG)because of their relationship and mutual business interests. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy and securities fraud.
Mr. Gupta, the former head of global consulting firm McKinsey & Co., is the highest-profile defendant to go on trial in a crackdown by the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation against insider trading.
Mr. Loeb is under investigation in connection with inside tips he is suspected of having received from an Asia-based analyst who covers the personal-computer supply chain, and then provided to Mr. Rajaratnam, according to people familiar with the matter. Galleon was one of Mr. Loeb's hedge-fund clients. The analyst is also under investigation, these people said.
"I know the defense wants to blow this up to confuse the jury," Mr. Brodsky said, to suggest that Mr. Loeb was "roaming the halls of Goldman Sachs" and sneaking into meetings. "That's just plainly absurd."
Gary Naftalis, a lawyer for Mr. Gupta, previously suggested that Mr. Loeb, without identifying him by name, should be on trial instead of Mr. Gupta. When Mr. Brodsky discounted his relevance to the case Wednesday, Mr. Naftalis shot back, "We're going to have a lot to say about David Loeb."
Mr. Naftalis said Wednesday that the defense had been advised Mr. Loeb was "on tape giving out Intel, Apple and perhaps Hewlett-Packard to Mr. Rajaratnam."
A Goldman Sachs spokesman declined to comment Wednesday.
Earlier Wednesday, Ananth Muniyappa, a junior trader at Galleon, testified about Mr. Rajaratnam's orders to him to buy Goldman shares just before the market closed on Sept. 23, 2008, the day the Berkshire investment was announced.
Mr. Muniyappa said that, though the trades made money, one person at Galleon was angry. Portfolio manager Leon Shaulov, according to an email showed in court, seemed to believe that Mr. Rajaratnam and Galleon co-founder Gary Rosenbach had knowledge of the Goldman announcement ahead of time and didn't tell him about it.
On the stand, Mr. Muniyappa described Mr. Shaulov, who had big bets that lost money as a result of the announcement, as "hair all over the place, red faced, eyes popped out."
Later, Mr. Shaulov sent an email to Mr. Rosenbach. "Thx for the heads up btw," he said, sarcastically. "Not one word from anyone. Thanks very much," he wrote in the email, which was shown in court. "What I give vs what I get back is disgusting," he said, ending with two curse words.
Mr. Rosenbach responded with a one-word email: "number." Mr. Muniyappa said that meant Mr. Rosenbach was asking for Mr. Shaulov's phone number, so he could call him, instead of responding via email.
The next morning, Mr. Rosenbach sent an email, shown in court, to Mr. Rajaratnam. "I spoke to Leon and I believe I [defused] him," he wrote.
-By Chad Bray and Michael Rothfeld, The Wall Street Journal; firstname.lastname@example.org
--Reed Albergotti contributed to this article.