Lawyers for former Goldman Sachs Group Inc Indian-origin director Rajat Gupta will get to question the investment bank's chairman Lloyd Blankfein and six others as part of a related civil lawsuit by the Securities & Exchange Commission ahead of Gupta's criminal trial on insider-trading charges in April.
US District Judge Jed Rakoff said apart from Blankfein, Ian Horowitz a former trader who worked for convicted hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam and three other individuals associated with Galleon - Ananth Muniyappa, Brock Vandervliet and Leon Shaulov, can also be deposed in the civil case.
Also to be questioned under oath by lawyers of the SEC and Gupta is Greg Ormond of Exemplar Wealth.
"The Court sees no material argument whatsoever for delaying the depositions," of these seven people, Rakoff said in his four-page ruling today adding that questioning of these people before Gupta's April criminal trial will give the two sides more time to conduct other discovery for his civil trial which has been set for October 2012.
Gupta has pleaded not guilty to charges filed against him in October by federal prosecutors that he passed confidential information he received as board member of Goldman Sachs and Proctor and Gamble to his friend Rajaratnam.
If convicted, he faces up to 105 years in prison.
The same day that he was indicted of securities fraud, Gupta was slapped with a civil suit in which SEC said he engaged in an "extensive insider- trading scheme" with Rajaratnam.
While his trial in the criminal case has been set for April 9 next year, Gupta's trial in the civil suit will begin on October 1.
Rakoff said there is no reason why the depositions of Blankfein and the six others cannot take place before April since the government has indicated that it is unlikely to call them as witnesses at the criminal trial and also because they had already testified in the Rajaratnam's trial this year.
Rajaratnam has been sentenced to 11 years on insider trading charges and is set to surrender to prison officials on December 5.
Prosecutors said Rajaratnam made millions of dollars in profits and avoided losses on the basis of information Gupta passed on to him, sometimes calling him within seconds of Goldman and P&G board meetings that he sat on, getting over.
Last week, Gupta's lawyer Gary Naftalis and SEC had each submitted names of 10 potential witnesses they wanted to question for his civil trial.
Rakoff said the remaining witnesses can be questioned after the criminal trial is concluded by end of April.