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Federal appeals court overturns Quattrone conviction

[JURIST] A federal appeals court has overturned the conviction of Frank Quattrone [profile], one of the dot-com era's most prominent investment bankers, on charges [indictment, PDF] of obstruction of justice and witness tampering on the grounds that the jury instructions were erroneous, court officials said Monday. Quattrone, who made as much as $120 million in a single year by helping companies such as Amazon.com go public, was convicted [JURIST report] in 2004 of forwarding emails to fellow employees at Credit Suisse [corporate website], encouraging them to "clean up" files and other evidence in the midst of an SEC investigation into whether the company was selling shares to preferential buyers during initial public offerings.

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held [ruling, PDF] that trial judge Richard Owen had improperly instructed the jury on the issue of whether Quattrone sent the emails with requisite degree of scienter. According to the appeals court, Owen's instructions allowed the jury to convict Quattrone "without any proof that the defendant knew the documents were subject to a subpoena" while Quattrone's convictions under 18 USC § 1505 [text] required that the defendant knew his actions are "likely to affect" the investigation. Prosecutors have not yet decided whether they will seek to re-try Quattrone. Bloomberg has more.

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