While much of the evidence that prosecutors introduced during cross-examination had little to do directly with the criminal charges against Mr. Quattrone, the former Credit Suisse First Boston investment banker, it did paint a vivid picture of a quid pro quo culture filled with crude jokes and name-calling that had long been assumed but rarely put on such sharp display.
Prosecutors introduced scores of e-mail messages yesterday that appeared to show First Boston bankers trying to attract new business by offering corporate executives access to hot initial public offerings, a practice known as “spinning.”
In one e-mail message, a First Boston banker wrote to a stockbroker in a group that catered to top executives at technology companies requesting that James L. Balsillie, chairman of Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry pagers – which was nearing a decision on picking a bank to underwrite its public offering – receive a large allocation of shares in the initial offering of AvantGo, a company that produced software for mobile devices.
“We are in the hunt for a large follow-on with RIM and our friend Mr. B, C.E.O. of RIM, is looking for a fill on AvantGo,” the banker wrote. “What kind of special allocation do you think we can get for him?”
A broker responded, “The guy is a pig and if we give him a direct allocation it should be very small as he has nothing whatsoever to do with this deal.” The banker, looking to obtain Research in Motion’s underwriting business, responded, “While his request may be piggy, Thanksgiving is around the corner, within spitting distance according to a conversation I recently had with the C.F.O.”
Mr. Quattrone, who continued to appear much steadier on the stand yesterday under cross-examination than he had during his first trial – which ended in a hung jury – responded to the e-mail debate by writing: “How does his personal account business stack up versus this request? We can’t do something where it looks like we are spinning. Would like to be on the generous side of what can be defended.”
While that e-mail message and others appeared to be a sideshow to the obstruction of justice charges against Mr. Quattrone, prosecutors seemed to be trying to establish a motive for why Mr. Quattrone sent his staff an e-mail message on Dec. 5, 2000, endorsing another colleague’s directions to “clean up those files” just days after learning about a grand jury investigation into the bank’s allocations of initial public offerings. That message is the basis for the prosecution’s case that he sought to obstruct a government investigation into the bank’s handling of initial offerings.