By Chad Bray
Lawyers for ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) director Rajat Gupta tried to cast doubts Monday on government allegations Mr. Gupta leaked confidential information to hedge-fund manager Raj Rajaratnam and to show he carried himself through life with integrity.
Prosecutors have alleged Mr. Gupta, also a director at Procter & Gamble Co. (PG), secretly leaked corporate information while a board member at Goldman and P&G to Mr. Rajaratnam, Galleon Group's co-founder who was convicted of insider-trading charges last year and sentenced to more than 11 years in prison.
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Richard Schutte, Galleon's former president for its U.S. operations, was asked repeatedly by Mr. Gupta's lawyers about conclusions reached by research analysts at the firm: namely that Galleon analysts felt Goldman was a "core long" holding and should be acquired ahead of several quarterly earnings reports in 2007--periods when prosecutors have alleged Mr. Gupta tipped Mr. Rajaratnam about Goldman's results.
Mr. Gupta's lawyers have tried to portray Galleon as an important client to Goldman and argued other insiders at Goldman may have had incentive to leak information to the hedge fund.
Mr. Schutte also testified Monday David Loeb, a senior Goldman Sachs salesman, was at a meeting between top Goldman executives, including Goldman President Gary Cohn, and senior Galleon executives in July 2008. Defense lawyers have argued others, including Mr. Loeb, may have shared inside information about Goldman with Mr. Rajaratnam.
On a July 29, 2008, wiretapped phone conversation played earlier in the trial, Mr. Gupta appeared to confirm rumors to Mr. Rajaratnam that Goldman's board had discussed the possibility of the company acquiring a commercial bank or an insurance company. Mr. Gupta's lawyers have argued Goldman executives were speaking with research analysts at the time about the possibility of Goldman acquiring a bank and any information Mr. Gupta gave Mr. Rajaratnam was already public.
Prosecutors have publicly acknowledged Mr. Loeb provided information about Intel Corp. (INTC), Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) to Mr. Rajaratnam, but said he didn't have access to the confidential Goldman information Mr. Gupta has been accused of providing.
An assistant for Mr. Loeb, who hasn't been charged with wrongdoing, directed calls to Goldman's media-relations department. A Goldman Sachs spokesman declined to comment.
Under questioning from prosecutors, Mr. Schutte later acknowledged Mr. Loeb was a salesman for international, rather than domestic stocks, and didn't provide him with any information regarding Goldman Sachs.
"Fair to say, Mr. Schutte, that Mr. Loeb in any of the emails distributed to you did not provide any information about Goldman Sachs?" Assistant U.S. Attorney Reed Brodsky said. "That is fair to say," Mr. Schutte said.
Prosecutors also tried to play down the relationship between Goldman and Galleon, pointing to a secondary offering following a $5 billion investment by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRKA BRKB) at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008.
Mr. Schutte testified the hedge fund requested to buy as many as 2.5 million shares of Goldman Sachs in the secondary offering but received only about 150,000 shares, much less than expected.
"The allocation that Goldman gave to Galleon was a signal to you that Goldman didn't believe Galleon was an important client?" Mr. Brodsky said.
"I would agree with that statement. We were not as important a client as we thought we were," said Mr. Schutte, who was called as a defense witness.
Separately, two character witnesses were called by the defense to testify about Mr. Gupta's integrity: Ashok Alexander, director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's HIV-prevention initiative in India, and Anil Sood, a former World Bank employee and childhood friend.
"I have always admired since my childhood days that Rajat is straightforward, direct and truthful and inspires trust," said Mr. Sood, who has known Mr. Gupta since they were in grade school together.
Write to Chad Bray at Chad.Bray@wsj.com