dimecres, 14 de setembre del 2011

Conceived in sin and born in corruption

One of Rajaratnam’s most enthusiastic informants was Danielle Chiesi, a former teen beauty queen from upstate New York. She worked at a hedge fund called New Castle, which was owned by Bear Stearns. A bottle blonde in her early forties, Chiesi lived alone in midtown and slept with men who gave her stock tips. She said that when she profited from such tips she felt “mentally fabulous.” By 2008, Chiesi had entered a relationship with Hector Ruiz, the chief executive of A.M.D. (Ruiz has denied that it was intimate.) Rajaratnam, hearing of Chiesi’s highly placed source, told Kumar that he had established a new inroad at the company, noting, “Your value to me is a bit diminished.”
In October, 2008, Kieran Taylor, an executive with Akamai, an Internet-services company, told Chiesi over the phone, “Danielle, I have a major present for you.”
“Drugs?” she asked. “I hope not.”
“Information, information.”
“I love you for that. When am I going to see you?”
After another phone conversation with Taylor, Chiesi told Rajaratnam, “I played him like a finely tuned piano.” She was eager to impress Rajaratnam, flirting with him as if by reflex, and passing him secrets without expecting much in return. Rajaratnam kept his distance, and declined to tell her when her information confirmed tips from other sources. After receiving one tip, he warned, “We got to keep this radio silence.”
“That is my pleasure,” Chiesi said.
“Not even to your little boyfriends, you know?”
“Believe me, I don’t have any friends.”
Rajaratnam’s view of human nature was not so different from that of Willie Stark, in “All the King’s Men”: “Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud.”

A month after Rajaratnam’s arrest, Bharara gave an unusually dark speech at N.Y.U.’s law school, speaking of “epic frauds surfacing with increasing frequency.” He noted, “There is a lack of faith in the economic system; a lack of belief in the markets; and a lack of trust that the playing field is level.” He made no apologies for ferreting out insider trading by using wiretaps, a practice that was unpopular on Wall Street. “When sophisticated business people begin to adopt the methods of common criminals, we have no choice but to treat them as such,” he said.

One day, in the eighth-floor cafeteria, I noticed Rajaratnam standing alone by a refrigerator case, contemplating the beverage choices. By unspoken agreement, reporters had refrained from approaching him, but it was a chance that seemed unlikely to come again. In court that day, he had been carrying a small paperback. I walked over and asked what he was reading.
Rajaratnam recoiled. “Why?”
“I saw you had a book. I just wondered what it was.”
He smiled in a shy way that seemed self-protective. “No, it was just some papers.”
In a mere ten seconds, Rajaratnam had managed to lie. I didn’t blame him. I was sorry that I’d broken the invisible barrier. He was facing the end of his freedom, and it was a kind of cruelty to make him engage.

George Packer, The New Yorker. A dirty business.