US govt uses Latham man in CSFB case

Latham & Watkins co-chair of global securities David Brodsky has become the US government’s star witness in the obstruction of justice trial against former Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) banker Frank Quattrone.

The testimony of the lawyer, a former managing director and general counsel for the Americas for CSFB, who joined Latham’s New York office in 2002, signifies another nail in the coffin of the hallowed attorney-client privilege following the publication of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

The act gives corporations the option of allowing in-house counsel to testify in court by waiving attorney-client privilege.

The case against Quattrone, brought by the US attorney for the Southern District of New York (soon to be deputy attorney-general at the Department of Justice) James Comey, charges the most high-profile banker of the internet era on two criminal counts of obstructing justice and one of witness tampering.

During the trial, Brodsky said he had communicated to Quattrone on 3 December 2000 about a grand jury investigation into the bank’s practices, before suggesting to the banker two days later that he retain his own counsel.

It is alleged that Quattrone then endorsed an email sent to employees saying: “Before you leave for the holidays, you should catch up on the file cleaning.”

Quattrone is being represented by leading US criminal defence lawyer John Keker.

The San Francisco-based attorney, name partner of 43-lawyer firm Keker & Van Nest, is best known for defending Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North in the Iran-Contra trial in the late 1980s.

Keker has also been retained to act for former Enron chief financial officer Andrew Fastow.

In the latest developments on Enron, Vinson & Elkins saw racketeering claims made against it in relation to the disgraced energy trader dropped.

Vinson was one of a number of parties hit by the claim – others included CSFB, Fastow, Enron’s former chairman Kenneth Lay, its former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling, the previous managing director Michael Kopper, and Merrill Lynch.

US district judge Melinda Harmon dismissed the racketeering claims.