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Jury Selection Starts in Quattrone Trial

Judge asks prospective members of the panel if they're familiar with the term 'document retention policy.'

September 30, 2003|Walter Hamilton | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Jury selection began Monday in the federal obstruction-of-justice trial of former Silicon Valley investment banker Frank Quattrone, in a case that will be a closely watched barometer of the government's crackdown on white-collar crime

Prosecutors have accused Quattrone, 47, of impeding government probes into how shares of initial public stock offerings were handed out at his former firm, Credit Suisse Group's Credit Suisse First Boston.

The case revolves around a brief e-mail message Quattrone wrote to his staff in December 2000 urging them to follow another investment banker's suggestion to clean up their files. Prosecutors say that was an attempt to coax his subordinates into destroying documents needed for the two investigations.

Quattrone's was one of two high-profile white-collar cases to get underway Monday in New York. In a state court a couple of blocks away, jury selection began in the trial of L. Dennis Kozlowski, the one-time head of Tyco International Ltd.

In the Quattrone case, prospective jurors were asked by Judge Richard Owen whether any knowledge they might have of the recent string of corporate scandals would prevent them from being impartial. They also were asked whether they were familiar with the term "document retention policy."

That is the name some companies give to the policies dictating which records their employees should keep and which they should destroy.

One man indicated, without providing details, that such a policy once had caused him to lose money in the stock market. He was excused by the judge.

Quattrone and his attorneys did not comment after the proceedings.

Quattrone's mother, sister and two aunts were in the courtroom, smiling and chatting with the financier during breaks.

Jury selection continues today.

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