NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former driver for Raj Rajaratnam has sued the one-time billionaire, claiming he was fired for complaining about secret wire transfers the founder of the Galleon Group hedge fund made to fellow prisoners following his conviction for insider trading.
Peter Malaszuk, a longtime assistant to Rajaratnam, sued his former boss, his wife, and a company she owns, saying the wire transfers were made to 20 inmates at the prison for several months, in violation of federal law.
The transfers were done at Rajaratnam’s direction “in order to control such prisoners and obtain special treatment and accommodations in prison,” according to the lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court in New Haven, Connecticut.
Malaszuk contended he was wrongfully fired for both complaining about the wire transfers as well as the use of an improperly notarized immigration document he said was used for Rajaratnam’s son.
He said he learned about the transfers from his former boss during visits to see him at the Federal Medical Center at Devens in Ayer, Massachusetts, where Rajaratnam is incarcerated.
Malaszuk also said Rajaratnam used an improperly notarized document in an effort to obtain a visa for his son, and the defendants had failed to pay him for $275,000 in overtime.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages.
Terence Lynam, a lawyer for Rajaratnam, in a statement called the lawsuit “patently false,” saying it stemmed from a “long-running effort by an embittered former employee to extort money from Mr. Rajaratnam and his family.”
Joseph Tacopina, Malaszuk’s attorney, did not respond to a request for comment, nor did representatives for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. A spokesman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined comment.
Rajaratnam, 57, is serving an 11-year prison term following his conviction in May 2011 of nine counts of securities fraud and five counts of conspiracy.
His younger brother, Rengan Rajaratnam, currently is on trial in New York on related insider trading charges.
Malaszuk’s lawsuit also names as defendants Rajaratnam’s wife, Asha Pabla, and Synamon Management Group LLC, a South Carolina-based company she owns that the complaint says was created to invest Rajaratnam’s assets.
In the complaint, Malaszuk said he worked for 15 years as Rajaratnam’s assistant at Galleon. After it closed, he said he was hired by Synamon as a caretaker for real estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a driver for Rajaratnam’s family.
During prison visits, Malaszuk said Rajaratnam would often give him pieces of paper with names and inmate numbers for prisoners and contact information for family members to wire money through Western Union.
Rajaratnam told Malaszuk to use false names with Western Union for identifying the sender of the funds and told him to destroy the paper he gave him with the names, the lawsuit said.
Such conduct violated federal law and was prohibited by Devens, the lawsuit said.
The case is Malaszuk v. Synamon Management Group LLC, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut, No. 14-00908.
Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Leslie Adler