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Gangs of New York

Nov
5
2003

Silicon Valley banker Frank Quattrone is going to go to court again.
The only people surprised by this are people living and working in Silicon Valley, where conventional wisdom says that the U.S. Attorney will look twice as silly if a second trial fails. Many of these people were treating the mistrial as though it were an acquittal.
Looking silly, as the U.S. Attorney would probably tell you, is not the point. The Southern District of New York is the policeman of Wall Street. They have to try Quattrone again. They believe he screwed with a grand jury investigation and, as prosecutors said again and again in court, if wealthy people like Quattrone — and Wall Street is filled with them — can trifle with the law and with grand juries, the system will not work. Deborah Lohse at The Merc gets at this point very quickly in her story.
For a few weeks now, the talk has been that Quattrone should “settle.” That he should pay a fine and let the matter go. But it’s not that simple. This is not a regulatory or civil matter. A plea agreement is just that and it almost always involves some sort of concession of guilt. It is not — as many in the valley seem to think — a small matter of paying a fine, accepting the slap on the wrist, and moving on. That attitude, in fact, is one very good reason why Silicon Valley has such a cavalier attitude about enforcement agencies. They’ve never had, until now, to consider the idea of jail. A second trial might pound that idea a little further into people’s brains.
Andy Sorkin’s NYT story carried an indication of just how convinced Quattrone remains of his innocence. Plea bargain talks that took place between Quattrone and the U.S. Attorney’s office went nowhere. The two sides were too far apart.
Translation: both sides think they can get a jury they want.
Quattrone is the first person to face the wrath — the real honest to God indignity — of regulatory and other agencies outside Silicon Valley. And there is very good and sound argument to be made that if those agencies were more aware, more on-the-ball, and more interested in what was happening in the financial markets — in other words, if they’d done their jobs — three year ago, Quattrone wouldn’t be in any trouble.
But that’s water under the bridge, a high deep bridge, that was crossed many years ago.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 3:45 PM | Permalink

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