Globe & Mail
March 3, 2011

On the afternoon of September 23, 2008, in the midst of some of the darkest days in American financial history, a handful of people dialled into a conference call and learned a piece of good news. Legendary investor Warren Buffett was about to invest billions in Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS-N164.492.801.73%), a move sure to hearten markets gripped by panic.

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Moments after hanging up, U.S. authorities claim, one Goldman director called a friend who headed a hedge fund. Within minutes, the hedge fund manager had snapped up thousands of Goldman shares, which soared after the news became public.

The episode is at the centre of explosive allegations revealed on Tuesday by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accusing Rajat Gupta, a former Goldman director who previously led consulting firm McKinsey & Co., of participating in a vast illegal insider trading scheme.

Mr. Gupta allegedly passed confidential information gleaned from two board memberships – at Goldman and Procter & Gamble Co. (PG-N62.550.140.22%) – to Raj Rajaratnam, the founder of hedge fund Galleon Group, whose trial on criminal insider-trading charges is scheduled to begin next week in New York.

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