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Sidley Austin Brown & Wood has become further embroiled in accounting giant KPMG’s criminal tax case after former partner Raymond "RJ" Ruble was formally indicted last week in connection with the sale of fraudulent tax shelters.
Ruble was listed alongside eight former executives of KPMG in the indictment, which was unsealed by the Manhattan Federal Court last Monday (29 August).
The criminal action relates to the creation and marketing of illegal tax shelters between 1996 and 2002, which generated at least $11bn in fraudulent tax losses that cost the US Treasury at least $2.5bn in lost taxes.
KPMG last month admitted criminal wrongdoing in the tax scam and settled with federal prosecutors after agreeing to pay $456m in penalties and submit to an external monitor.
Sidley Austin has previously been implicated in the matter after the firm admitted to earning $23m in fees for its work in the creation of the tax shelters. However the firm has blamed the matter on Ruble, who was dismissed from the firm’s partnership in 2003.
Ruble is accused of assisting with the development of the shelters and of writing opinion letters for KPMG assuring clients that the tax shelters "more likely than not" would withstand Internal Revenue Service scrutiny. Court documents state that he was paid $50,000 per letter.
The charges relate to when Ruble was a partner of New York law firm Brown & Wood, prior to its merger with Chicago firm Sidley & Austin in 2001. However he was expelled from the merged firm’s partnership in 2003 because of concerns over activities in his tax-shelter practice.
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, led by Robert Bennett, advised KPMG.