The fate of Silicon Valley’s star investment banker Frank Quattrone’s career at Credit Suisse First Boston could hinge on a series of e-mails sent more than two years ago. State and federal prosecutors are trying to determine if Quattrone was trying to obstruct a federal inquiry when he helped encourage his employees to “clean up” their files. He denies wrongdoing.
Excerpts from the e-mails:
Sunday, Dec. 3, 2000, 5:39 p.m. through 5:56 p.m.: Quattrone has an e-mail exchange marked PRIVILEGED AND HIGHLY CONFIDENTIAL with David Brodsky, Credit Suisse’s then-general counsel for the Americas, who tells Quattrone “briefly and this should absolutely not be passed on to anyone else, we have received federal grand jury subpoenaes asking for testimony and documents about the IPO allocation process.”
Brodsky says he’s working to prevent the U.S. attorney “from sending subpoenaes for testimony and documents to the customers who received allocations in, among others, VA Lynux (sic), as well as subpoenaes to the issuers because of the inherent possibility of a leak which would be extremely detrimental.” He asks Quattrone to call him.
Monday, Dec. 4, 2000, 5:13 p.m.: Richard Char, then an attorney in the investment banking division, sends Quattrone’s group an e-mail urging employees to “clean up those files.” The e-mail says that private lawsuits are expected in the wake of “the recent tumble in stock prices, and many deals now trading below issue price.” The e-mail adds that once a lawsuit is instituted, document clean-up must stop.
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2000, 6:28 p.m.: Quattrone sends a short e-mail endorsing the document clean-up advice, saying “having been a key witness in a securities litigation case. I strongly advise you to follow these procedures.”
Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2000, 6:33 p.m.: Char sends Quattrone another e-mail saying “I got a call from (legal and compliance department) this afternoon. Due to an NASD investigation of VA Linux,” document clean-up procedures must stop. He said the legal department “told everyone except the Tech Group” about the change. He said the legal department would notify tech employees “this evening.”
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2000, 9:04 p.m. EST: Adrian Dollard, a lawyer for the technology group in Palo Alto, sends out an informal e-mail to tech employees telling them to cease “editing” their files. He said the document clean-up rules were being frozen “due to a routine regulatory inquiry.”
Thursday, Dec. 7, 2000, 1:47 p.m. EST: Credit Suisse New York-based attorney Bruce Albert formally notifies CSFB tech employees with a Notice of Obligation to Preserve Relevant Documents, including those related to IPOs Credit Suisse managed or advised from Jan. 1, 1999, to Nov. 21, 2000. “Accordingly, the e-mails sent by Richard Char and Frank Quattrone on December 4, 2000, and December 5, 2000 should not be followed.”
Monday, Feb. 3, 2003: Credit Suisse issues a news release that Quattrone has been put on administrative leave while the firm determines if he misled them about the e-mails.
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