Frank Quattrone, the former Credit Suisse First Boston investment banker, was charged by federal prosecutors Wednesday with obstruction of justice. His lawyer said the case was trumped up.
Quattrone was arraigned at the federal courthouse in Manhattan on obstruction of justice charges relating to alleged emails he sent to CSFB employees urging them to destroy certain emails.
“Frank Quattrone is innocent,” said John Keker, the banker’s lawyer, in a prepared statement. “Only prosecutors who see the world through dirty windows would take a one-sentence email supporting company policy and try to turn it into a federal criminal case.”
Quattrone’s lawyer released the statement following news reports that federal prosecutors in Manhattan planned to charge Quattrone. A spokesman for James Comey, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, had no comment on the charges but said a press conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT.
The charges stem from emails Quattrone reportedly sent in December 2000 to underlings urging them to destroy certain emails. The timing is what bothers prosecutors: The emails were sent as a federal probe into CSFB’s investment banking practices was heating up a probe Quattrone might have known about.
Quattrone’s lawyers contend the email was merely intended to remind investment bankers of the firm’s policy to destroy unnecessary documents to avoid providing fodder to securities lawyers who might bring lawsuits against the firm. But prosecutors apparently see a more devious purpose behind the email because Quattrone sent it out after being warned by CSFB’s then-general counsel that securities regulators were looking into some of the firm’s IPO practices.
Quattrone’s lawyers, however, insist there is an innocent explanation for the email and they intend to prove that in court.
“These accusations are wrong and unfair,” said Keker. “The only way we can prove that is to try this case, which is why we will ask that the jury trial occur at the earliest possible moment.”
Early last month, Quattrone resigned under pressure from CSFB, when the potentially incriminating emails were discovered.
The filing of criminal charges against Quattrone would cap his breathtaking fall from grace. At one time, Quattrone was one of the most respected investment bankers in Silicon Valley and helped turn CSFB into a powerhouse investment bank in the technology sector during the latter half of the 1990s.
CSFB declined to comment.
Besides the criminal case, Quattrone is also facing civil charges over his work as an investment banker.
In March, The NASD charged the former technology investment banker with violating securities rules by doling out shares in hot initial public offerings to corporate executives in a bid to win investment-banking business for CSFB. The NASD, formerly known as the National Association of Securities Dealers, has been investigating allegations of “spinning” against Quattrone for months.
Regulators also charged Quattrone with overseeing a system at CSFB that put pressure on research analysts to tout stocks of companies that did banking business with CSFB.