Frank Quattrone’s now infamous email, allegedly obstructive of investigations into the bank, were really just reinforcing advice from another manager. Calmly giving evidence at his own trial today, he explained his business as head of technology investment banking for Credit Suisse First Boston’s Palo Alto branch. Quattrone said he was “simply seconding or encouraging the group to follow the document retention policy.” Simple words, eye contact with the jury – Frank seems to be doing well for man indicted on these charges.

Quattrone said he was really reinforcing advice from another manager who was responsible for making sure his investment bankers complied with company policy regarding what to keep and what to discard from investment-banking deal files.

He is accused of attempting to obstruct justice by sending an e-mail that endorsed instructions to to destroy files on profitable investment banking deals. At the time he sent the e-mail, Credit Suisse was under investigation by a federal grand jury and the Securities and Exchange Commission for deals involving IPOs, or initial public offerings, that generated large commissions that allegedly amounted to kickbacks.

The grand jury investigation ended without any charges related to the commissions or deals. Quattrone, however, was later indicted on the obstruction-of-justice charges.

As Quattrone took the witness stand today, his lawyer, John Keker, launched immediately into asking him whether he intended to obstruct the numerous investigations ongoing at Credit Suisse.

“Did your e-mail relate in any way in your mind” to the grand jury or SEC investigations underway in late 2002, Keker asked Quattrone. Quattrone replied, “No.”

Keker took Quattrone through a series of questions designed to explain the narrow group of employees to whom Quattrone was addressing his e-mail, within the larger Credit Suisse firm. He also explained the difference between employees involved in the firm’s allocation of IPO shares and those working on the firm’s IPO process in general. (IPOs are initial public offerings of stock, the deals handled by investment banks to raise money for young companies.)

Those points are important because Quattrone contends his knowledge of the investigations was limited to believing they centered on the IPO allocation process. That process, he said, was handled by employees outside his technology investment unit.

Quattrone testified, making eye contact with the jury repeatedly, that every facet of IPO allocation is allocated by Credit Suisse’s equity unit — not the investment banking where he worked.

Quattrone also made a point of saying he has handled some of the biggest deals in technology investment banking in recent years, including the IPOs of Cisco Systems, Netscape, Xilinx, Intuit and Amazon.com.

Prior to his testimony, the defense presented two character witnesses: one a long-time friend from Philadelphia, Rosario Lamberto; and one a Silicon Valley friend, Russell Hall of Menlo Park, from Legacy Venture, a charitable venture fund.

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