Rajaratnam broke law to conquer market: prosecutor

By Grant McCool and Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Raj Rajaratnam corrupted friends and corporate employees to gain tips that let him make millions of dollars of illegal profit through insider trading, a prosecutor said at the Galleon Group hedge fund founder's trial.

"The defendant knew tomorrow's news today, and that meant big money," Assistant U.S. Attorney Reed Brodsky told the Manhattan federal jury in his closing argument on Wednesday.

Rajaratnam tried to "conquer the stock market at the expense of the law," Brodsky added. He called the evidence against Rajaratnam "overwhelming."

Rajaratnam, 53, is the central figure in a sweeping U.S. government probe of insider trading at hedge funds, and the only defendant so far to go on trial.

The one-time billionaire was charged with 14 counts of securities fraud and conspiracy, and faces as much as 25 years in prison if convicted.

His chief defense lawyer, John Dowd, is expected to begin his closing argument later on Wednesday. The jury could begin deliberations as soon as Thursday.

Prosecutors accuse Rajaratnam of making as much as $63.8 million of illegal profit from 2003 to March 2009 by trading on tips from a network of highly-placed corporate insiders.

Many of the tips related to technology companies such as chipmakers Advanced Micro Devices Inc and Intel Corp and the Internet search company Google Inc.

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

(Reporting by Grant McCool and Jonathan Stempel, editing by Matthew Lewis)