"Geld van Wall Street naar Tamil Tijgers"

De Tamil Tijgers hebben hun strijd in Sri Linka mogelijk mede gefinancieerd met behulp van donaties van miljardairs die op Wall Street fortuin hebben gemaakt. The Wall Street Journal meldt in ieder geval dat onaties van de Amerikaanse miljardiar Raj Rajaratnam mogelijk terecht gekomen bij de Tamil Tijgers.
De schijnwerpers zijn momenteel gericht op Rajaratnam omdat hij een van de zes mensen is die vorige week zijn gearresteerd op verdenking van aandelenhandel met voorkennis, ter waarde van 20 miljoen dollar. Rajaratnam is de oprichter van een hedgefonds, Galleon Group geheten.
Los van het onderzoek naar de aandelenhandel met voorkennis blijkt er nog een tweede onderzoek te lopen naar de miljardair. Gift van Rajaratnam die bedoeld waren om de slachtoffer van de tsunami in 2005 te helpen, zouden uiteindelijk zijn doorgesluisd naar de Tamil Tijgers, die tot een half jaar geleden een bloedige burgeroorlog voerde op Sri Lanka. De aanklagers beschuldigen Rajaratnam er volgens The Wall Street Journal niet van dat hij willens en wetens de Tamil Tijgers heeft gesteund; mogelijk heeft hij te goeder trouw gehandeld.

Mr. Rajaratnam, 52 years old, was among six people arrested Friday in what the Federal Bureau of Investigation said is the largest-ever hedge-fund insider-trading case. Federal prosecutors charged Mr. Rajaratnam with securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

There doesn’t appear to be a connection between the two investigations. James Walden, an attorney for Mr. Rajaratnam, said his client is innocent of the insider-trading charges and will fight them. In the terrorism probe, Mr. Rajaratnam wasn’t charged, but eight people have pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to the group, designated as terrorist. U.S. prosecutors in the cases don’t allege Mr. Rajaratnam knew contributions were routed to the Tamil Tigers.

The Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, or TRO, the group to which Mr. Rajaratnam made donations, was involved in coordinating and funding relief activities in early 2005 after a tsunami battered Sri Lanka and other parts of South and Southeast Asia. But the group later came under scrutiny for ties to the LTTE. Mr. Walden said Mr. Rajaratnam made charitable donations "to rebuild homes destroyed by the tsunami" and that he wasn’t involved with the LTTE.

The TRO and LTTE are no longer active organizations. In response to an FBI raid on TRO offices in 2006, the organization said it was a relief organization, and that its only relationship to the Tamil Tigers was in the course of the work conducted in regions then controlled by the LTTE. The TRO wasn’t charged with wrongdoing.

In court documents related to the terrorism case, an FBI agent cites documents uncovered in court-authorized searches as showing donations to TRO USA made by a person identified only as "individual B." Mr. Rajaratnam wasn’t named in the filings but is the person identified as "individual B," according to people familiar with the probe. "Individual B" made donations to TRO USA totaling $1 million in 2000, according to bank records cited by the FBI. In 2004, "individual B" made an additional $1 million donation, according to bank records cited by the FBI. The funds were then wired to the TRO organization’s Sri Lanka bank accounts.

Mr. Rajaratnam was a frequent contributor to various causes, from those that promoted development in the Indian subcontinent to programs that benefited lower-income South Asian youth in the New York area.

He was also active politically. Data from the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks political contributions, shows Mr. Rajaratnam donated $26,200 to the Democratic Party’s fund-raising arm in 2007. He also provided $4,600 in 2007 to the campaign of Hillary Clinton, now secretary of state, and $4,600 in 2008 to the campaign of President Barack Obama.

A Democratic National Committee spokesman said contributions to the DNC and the Obama campaign from Mr. Rajaratnam will be donated to charity. Representatives at the State Department didn’t immediately comment.

His name is well-known in the Sri Lankan investment world, where rumors he could be buying or selling stakes in companies can drive prices on the Colombo Stock Exchange, according to local businesspeople. According to corporate reports as of March 31, Mr. Rajaratnam owned a 9% stake in the conglomerate John Keells Holdings, Sri Lanka’s largest listed company, and Galleon Diversified Fund Ltd. owned a 5% stake in Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, one of the country’s largest banks. Representatives for John Keells and the Commercial Bank of Ceylon couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Bron(nen):   The Wall Street Journal  Bloomberg