A second Harvard Business School alum pleaded guilty today (May 27) to insider trading.
Samir Barai, a hedge fund manager who graduated from Harvard in 1999, pleaded guilty to to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of obstruction of justice.
Barai is the second Harvard MBA to plead guilty in the biggest insider trading case since the 1980s when junk bond king Michael Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and securities fraud. Adam Smith, a former 1999 classmate and ex-Morgan Stanley banker and a former employee of hedge fund Galleon Group, pleaded guilty earlier this year.
The insider trading crackdown has now claimed three Wharton MBAs and the two Harvard MBAs. A remaining Harvard grad, one of the school’s most prominent alums, Rajat Gupta, remains accused of insider trading by the Securities & Exchange Commission. Gupta, the former managing director of McKinsey & Co., denies the charges.
Barai, the founder of Barai Capital Management LP, can face both jail time and major fines. The conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, the securities fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, the wire fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and the obstruction count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He also faces millions of dollars in fines and disgorgement at sentencing in August.
Barai entered his plea in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In a statement, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Barai worked as a portfolio manager between 2006 and 2010 at two hedge funds located in New York. During that time, he and several co-conspirators allegedly participated in a conspiracy to obtain material, non-public information, such as detailed financial earnings, about numerous public companies.
According to the attorney general, Barai and his co-conspirators used an “expert networking” firm to communicate with and pay their alleged sources of inside information. The defendants also allegedly obtained inside information from independent research consultants. Bharara said that after Barai and his co-conspirators received information from their sources, Barai had regular conference calls to share information with co-conspirators who worked at other hedge funds.
Billionaire hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, a Wharton School MBA, was convicted earlier this month on May 11 on all 14 counts of fraud and conspiracy by a federal jury in New York. Rajaratnam, head of the Galleon Group, now faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced. He is expected to appeal the verdict. Another Wharton alum, Anil Kumar, who had met Rajaratnam when they were both first-year MBAs, pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges last year and testified against his old classmate in hopes of leniency at sentencing. A third Wharton classmate, Rajiv Goel, a former Intel mid-level executive, also has pleaded guilty to giving illegal stock tips with Rajaratnam.