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Evidence against Gupta devastating: prosecution

New York: The prosecutors have told a US jury that there is "overwhelming" and "devastating" evidence of insider trading against former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta but the defense argued there is no "beef in the case" as the hearing in one of the Wall Street`s biggest scandal wrapped up.

The prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments in the high-profile insider trading trial of Gupta in Manhattan federal court yesterday and the case will now go to the jury, which will get instructions on the law from presiding judge Jed Rakoff.

The group of eight women and four men will then begin its deliberations later today on the fate of Gupta, one of corporate America`s most successful Indian-Americans and the most high-profile Wall Street executive fighting criminal charges in the government`s crackdown on insider trading.

Using graphics, emails, phone records and wiretaps, federal prosecutor Richard Tarlowe summarised for the jury charges and evidence that 63-year-old Gupta "violated his duty" as a Goldman and Proctor and Gamble board member to tip now-jailed hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam.

"Gupta abused his position as a corporate insider by providing secret company information to his longtime business partner and friend Raj Rajaratnam, so Rajaratnam could use that information to buy and sell stocks before the investing public," Tarlowe said in an aggressive tone. "By doing so, Gupta enabled Rajaratnam to make millions of dollars," he said.

"Time and time again Gupta betrayed that trust and violated that duty by using the secret information to help Rajaratnam cash in on it," Tarlowe said. "The evidence against Gupta is overwhelming and devastating."

Tarlowe said in his summation that Gupta was a "secret pipeline" to Rajaratnam, and "evidence shows that Gupta tipped (off) Rajaratnam periodically in anticipation of receiving multiple benefits in return."

Gupta has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy and five counts of securities fraud. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Gupta`s lawyer Gary Naftalis, speaking softly and slowly, blamed the government of presenting to the jury an "illusion" even though it had no direct evidence against his client. "With all the power and majesty of the United States government, they found no real, hard, direct evidence," Naftalis said.

"They didn`t find any because it didn`t happen… As they say in that old commercial, where`s the beef in this case? We have had no real first-hand knowledge of the crimes alleged to have been committed here."

Naftalis said the government in its desperation to build its case presented stacks of documents and "parade of meaningless witnesses" but it is "indisputable" that Gupta did not buy or sell even a single share of Goldman Sachs and Proctor and Gamble.

"No cash changed hands here. No dishonest dimes ended up in Gupta`s pocket," Naftalis said during his nearly three hours of closing arguments.

"If you put in a lot of paper, you give the illusion that you might have something more than you actually have an illusion of making something out of nothing," Naftalis argued. "That is a gambit that can bamboozle people into thinking something was proven when it wasn`t," Naftalis added.

Naftalis urged the jury to give Gupta a not-guilty verdict if they have even the slightest doubt that he committed any crime. "For Gupta, this is the case in which whatever you decide here will mark whatever future he has left," Naftalis said in a low tone.

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