Star technology banker Frank Quattrone resigned from Credit Suisse First Boston yesterday in the face of multiple criminal investigations, ending a career that symbolised the bull market of the 1990s.
Mr Quattrone had been suspended with pay last month after CSFB uncovered evidence indicating he knew the bank was being investigated when he sent an e-mail urging bankers to clean out their files in accordance with company policy.
CSFB began moves toward a dismissal this week when it learnt that Mr Quattrone had declined to co-operate with a civil investigation by the National Association of Securities Dealers, a self-regulatory organisation.
CSFB said Mr Quattrone had “resigned effective immediately”. It added: “The firm and Mr Quattrone have agreed that it was in their respective best interests for Mr Quattrone to separate from the firm at this time.”
Mr Quattrone said through a spokesman that he had done nothing wrong. “Mr Quattrone elected to resign. He did so with sadness because of the many friends and professional colleagues he will be leaving behind,” the spokesman said.
He added that Mr Quattrone had agreed with CSFB to put all financial matters between them including compensation on hold until all investigations were resolved.
The NASD is considering banning Mr Quattrone from the securities industry for failing to appear at its hearing, while the US attorney in Manhattan is looking into whether Mr Quattrone obstructed justice by urging colleagues to destroy documents. Eliot Spitzer, New York attorney-general, is considering whether the CSFB high-tech group headed by Mr Quattrone acted improperly in stock research and public offering procedures.
Mr Quattrone had been one of the most prominent and well-paid bankers – of the internet era. He almost single-handedly made CSFB a leading player in the boom, but became a magnet for regulators and lawyers when the market collapsed.
CSFB was one of the most harshly penalised of a dozen big investment banks that recently agreed to pay $1.5bn to settle investigations of conflicts of interest that riddled their stock research and IPO practices.
Mr Quattrone’s departure is a setback for John Mack, CSFB chief executive, who soon after taking control of the investment bank in 2001 said he had “complete confidence” in Mr Quattrone’s “integrity and ethics”.
His approach changed after he learnt of e-mails from CSFB’s general counsel for the Americas on December 3 2000 telling Mr Quattrone the bank faced investigations. On December 4 three of Mr Quattrone’s colleagues sent an e-mail reminding employees of their responsibility to get rid of unneeded documents.
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