Thursday, September 08, 2005

U.S. Expects to Indict At Least 12 More Over KPMG Shelters

September 7, 2005; Page C1

NEW YORK -- The lead prosecutor in the KPMG LLP tax-shelter investigation said the government expects to seek indictments against at least 12 more individuals in the coming weeks, on top of the nine people who were arraigned yesterday in a federal court in Manhattan.

The additional defendants will be named as part of a superseding indictment and could include additional charges against the nine people whose bond requirements were set yesterday by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. The government's lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin Weddle, said the additional charges in the superseding indictment likely would include obstruction of justice, as well as tax evasion, in addition to the existing conspiracy count that the government unsealed last week.

Nine Are Charged in KPMG Tax-Shelter Case

See the federal indictment and the I.R.S.'s 2004 civil lawsuit against KPMG seeking to enforce summonses against the company as part of its original tax shelter probe, by arrangement with FindLaw (

Prosecutors didn't identify who the additional defendants might be. Possibilities include additional former KPMG partners, as well as others outside the firm who were involved in the sale or use of four shelters that KPMG sold to hundreds of wealthy Americans from 1996 to 2002. The shelters went by the names Blips, Flip, Opis and Short Option Strategy.

At yesterday's arraignment hearing, Mr. Weddle said the government believed that some of the nine defendants already named in the case used allegedly fraudulent KPMG shelters to shave their own personal tax bills.

He also said tax-evasion charges would be sought against some defendants who allegedly helped KPMG clients evade taxes by creating and marketing the shelters.

Prosecutors asked for three months to seek the superseding indictment, citing Justice Department procedures for tax-fraud prosecutions. In denying the government's request, Judge Kaplan said, "You're going to have to move a lot faster. It's not clear to me why you can't." He added, "Multibillion-dollar takeovers get litigated in that time. You can do it." The judge set an Oct. 17 deadline for the government to file its superseding indictment and scheduled trial proceedings to begin May 1, 2006.

Prosecutors estimated that a trial of the nine people arraigned yesterday could take three months.

At the same time, Judge Kaplan said that the "chances of having a single trial" for more than 20 defendants "are not too great." Some of the defense lawyers at yesterday's hearing, including a lawyer for former KPMG Deputy Chairman Jeffrey Stein, said they believed the case should be broken up into different groups of defendants for multiple trials.

Of the nine defendants arraigned yesterday, eight are former KPMG tax professionals, including Mr. Stein. Other defendants include former KPMG Vice Chairmen Richard Smith and John Lanning, and Raymond J. Ruble, a former New York partner at the law firm Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP.

Under the terms of a $456 million settlement last month, KPMG admitted criminal wrongdoing in connection with past shelter sales, but it will not be criminally prosecuted so long as it complies with certain requirements, including continued cooperation with prosecutors.

The nine defendants were released yesterday on their personal recognizance and have two weeks to meet additional bond requirements. Judge Kaplan set Mr. Stein's bond at $3.5 million, the highest among the nine defendants.

Prosecutors described Mr. Stein as one of the leaders of the alleged conspiracy at KPMG to sell fraudulent tax shelters to wealthy Americans, and they had asked that his bond be set at $5 million. Among other things, prosecutors cited a severance payment of more than $9 million that they said Mr. Stein received from KPMG last year, after he had been notified that he was under criminal investigation. Mr. Stein's attorney said that KPMG, under pressure from the government, reduced the severance package; he declined to offer details.

Five of the defendants' bonds were set at $1 million each, while two others' bonds were set at $300,000 and $500,000, respectively. Mr. Smith's bond was set at $1.5 million; his bond must be co-signed by his wife and secured by their home and any real estate his wife owns. All nine defendants must surrender their passports.

In setting the May 1, 2006, trial date, Judge Kaplan warned Mr. Weddle about his three-month trial estimate. "You're going to put the jury to sleep and lose them completely," he said. "The name of the game is to boil this down and move it."


Post a Comment

<< Home