Raj Rajaratnam accused of funding LTTE
On Wall Street, Raj Rajaratnam is famous for being a perpetrator in
one of the biggest insider trading cases in history. But he's also the
subject of another lawsuit that's only just beginning. It involves
money, death and terrorists.
Galleon Group founder Raj
Three years ago, Rajaratnam was found guilty of securities fraud
involving his Galleon Group hedge fund and sentenced to 11 years in
prison. But later this month, attorneys will begin the discovery process
for another case that dates even further back.Rajaratnam, his father and
his family's organisation are accused of sending funds to the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a US-designated terrorist group that fought for
an independent state for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka's decades-long
civil war. Rajaratnam, now a US citizen, was born in Ceylon, as the
island was then called.
The United States declared the LTTE group a “foreign terrorist
organisation” in 1997. Like the IRA and other terrorist groups, the
Tamil Tigers drew financing from an ethnic diaspora around the world,
who funneled money through various charity fronts.
In October 2009, a group of victims and survivors of LTTE attacks in
Sri Lanka alleged that the Rajaratnam family sent millions of dollars to
the group, thus indirectly funding a series of suicide bombings between
November 2007 and April 2008.
The complaint alleges that Rajaratnam and his father “are members of
the global Tamil expatriate community who knowingly and purposefully
helped fund LTTE's terror campaign”.
Rajaratnam did donate at least $5m to an American charity called the
Tamil Rehabilitation Organization between 2000 and 2007. The US
government alleged in 2007 that the group was a fundraising front for
the Tamil Tigers. Rajaratnam's legal representatives said at the time
that he had no knowledge of such a connection.
“We do know that money moved that way, but the issue at trial will be
whether he knew,” Michael Elsner, an attorney at Motley Rice
representing the plaintiffs, told IBTimes US.
The case has been moving slowly. It was delayed by a number of
factors, including the presiding judge's retirement. And of course,
Rajaratnam is now in jail.
“The timing of it was unfortunate for us because we had been working
on the case for so long, and the US government filed their claims
first,” Elsner said.
Lawyers for both sides will meet later this month to begin the first
stages of discovery, which should uncover evidence to be used during a
trial.The plaintiffs are seeking economic damages, since many of the
victims were unable to recover after financially after the attacks. For
example, one woman who lost her husband had to move out of her house and
stay with friends. Businesses that were destroyed would never be the
same. But of course, the emotional stakes are high.
“It's also about standing up to make a point of what happened to
their loved ones and tell that story,” Elsner said, adding that many of
the families he represents had lost children. One particularly deadly
attack killed an entire high school sports team and their coach.
At this point, Elsner said he expects a trial as soon as 2015. But
before that happens he'll have to go through the discovery process,
which means tracking down various financial transactions from the past
decade. And it's not going to be simple.
“He was a hedge fund investor, so he has a sophisticated sense of how
to move money and how to move it in ways that couldn't be detected,”
Elsner said. “The discovery will be interesting and challenging.”
Business Times, UK