Rajaratnam absent from court as jurors deliberate

By Grant McCool and Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam did not appear in court on Monday on the sixth day of jury deliberations in his insider trading trial after undergoing emergency foot surgery, his lawyer said.

"Mr Rajaratnam had developed a bacterial infection in his foot that required surgery," lawyer John Dowd said in a statement on Monday. "It is hoped that he will be recovered sufficiently to return to the courthouse this week."

The statement said Rajaratnam, 53, had the surgery on Sunday. It said presiding U.S. District Judge Richard Holwell had approved his absence.

While the jury continued its deliberations, Rajaratnam's lawyers and prosecutors met the judge behind closed doors for more than an hour.

The jury also sent a note to Holwell but the contents of the note were not made public.

Rajaratnam has attended every day of the trial that began on March 8. The jury began its deliberations a week ago.

Prosecutors have accused the Sri Lankan-born Rajaratnam of reaping as much as $63.8 million illegally by trading on inside tips about companies such as chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices Inc and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Rajaratnam, who has been free on bail since his October 2009 arrest, faces nine counts of securities fraud and five counts of conspiracy. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison.

Prosecutors introduced more than 40 recordings of phone taps that they said showed Rajaratnam receiving and planning trades on inside information.

A verdict essentially hinges on whether the government has convinced jurors beyond a reasonable doubt that Rajaratnam traded on material nonpublic information from people who had a duty not to disclose it, and knew it was wrong.

The case is USA v Raj Rajaratnam et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 09-01184.

(Additional reporting by Carlyn Kolker, editing by Bernard Orr)