NY jury chosen in consultant’s inside trading trial

By Jeff Roberts

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A jury was chosen on Wednesday for the trial of Winifred Jiau, a technology consultant embroiled in an insider trading probe tied to so-called “expert networks” that provide industry advice to hedge funds.

Manhattan federal prosecutors say that Jiau, known as ”Wini,” made more than $200,000 by selling inside information about semiconductor companies while she worked at Primary Global Research, a San Francisco consulting firm. The firm links hedge funds and other investors with experts tied to various industries.

Nine women and three men were selected to decide if Jiau is guilty of multiple charges related to insider trading. She has pleaded not guilty.

The Taiwan-born consultant has been in jail since late December after she was arrested in San Francisco and then denied bail by a California federal judge who deemed her a flight risk. She was later moved to New York to face charges including conspiracy to commit securities fraud.

Jiau wore a black suit to her trial in Manhattan federal court after U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff permitted her on Monday to have access to three blouses, two suits and one pair of shoes over the course of the trial. Opening statements are set for Thursday afternoon.

Every other defendant in the government’s sweeping probe of insider trading in the lightly regulated $1.9 trillion hedge fund industry has been granted bail.

After Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam was convicted last month in a high-profile insider trading case, prosecutors sought to have him immediately jailed, but the judge allowed him to stay out on a $100 million bail package that keeps him under home confinement until his July 29 sentencing.

As jurors were questioned, Jiau sat between two of her lawyers and provided instructions to them while another three members of her defense team sat behind her.

Like Rajaratnam, who faces the possibility of years in prison, Jiau unsuccessfully attempted to suppress potentially incriminating telephone recordings prior to trial.

The recordings in her case include Jiau speaking with former hedge fund manager Samir Barai, who pleaded guilty last week to securities fraud.

The prosecution contends that Jiau provided tips about Nvidia Corp and Marvell Technology Group to Barai and other clients who then traded on the information or passed it to others.

The case is USA vs. Winifred Jiau, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-cr-00161. (Reporting by Jeff Roberts; editing by Martha Graybow, Gary Hill)