Article Ref : Economic Times 1 FEB, 2012, 07.24PM IST, IANS 

US prosecutors have expanded their insider-tradingcase against Goldman Sachs Group’s former Indian American director Rajat Gupta, charging him with passing tips to convicted hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam much earlier than alleged before.

In a superseding indictment filed Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, prosecutors broadened their description of the insider-trading scheme, saying it began in March 2007 not in 2008 as alleged in October.

Gupta provided the inside information to Rajaratnam “because of Gupta’s friendship and business relationships with Rajaratnam,” prosecutors said. “Gupta benefited from Rajaratnam’s capital commitment to, and position as a limited partner of, the private equity fund.” The government said the conspiracy continued until January 2009, beyond when Gutpa’s lawyer has said his client’s friendship with Rajaratnam deteriorated.

In a statement, Gupta’s lawyer, Gary Naftalis, called the charges “totally baseless.” “The newly added charges-like the ones brought last year-are not based on any direct evidence, but rely on supposed circumstantial evidence,” Naftalis said. “The facts in this case demonstrate that Gupta is innocent of all of these charges, and that he has always acted with honesty and integrity.”