Quattrone plans return after judge’s move

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Frank Quattrone, the most prominent banker of the 1990s technology boom, on Tuesday said he planned to re-enter business after a judge approved a settlement that would allow him to avoid a third trial for obstructing justice.

The judge backed a “deferred prosecution” agreement that Mr Quattrone reached with federal prosecutors, meaning charges will be dropped if he does not break the law in the next year.

That would clear the way for Mr Quattrone to go back into the securities industry, where he was a leading figure in the technology flotations in the late 1990s.

Leaving court on Tuesday, Mr Quattrone, 50, revealed no detailed plans but said he wanted to resume his business career.

Mr Quattrone, who formerly worked for Credit Suisse First Boston and once earned more than $100m in a year, could set up an advisory firm or a venture capital business, industry observers said.

A highly regarded figure in Silicon Valley, Mr Quattrone has retained the support of many leading executives in the technology world, some of whom wrote to the judge who presided over his 2004 trial urging leniency.

In his 23-year banking career, Mr Quattrone calculates he has helped technology companies raise more than $65bn, leading more than 175 initial public offerings, including Cisco, Netscape and Amazon.com.

The outcome is a blow for the US attorney’s office for the southern district of New York, which first accused Mr Quattrone of obstructing justice in April 2003. The case sprang from the probe into how investment banks awarded clients shares in hot technology flotations.

The accusation against Mr Quattrone was based on an e-mail in December 2000 to colleagues in which he suggested it was time to “clean up” their computer files. Two days earlier, a CSFB lawyer had warned Mr Quattrone that the way the way the bank allocated stock to investors in IPOs was under criminal investigation.

Mr Quattrone originally claimed that he had no involvement in IPO allocations but later admitted he sometimes had a hand in the process. His defence was that he did not realise that the investigation into IPO allocations involved his team.

Mr Quattrone’s first trial ended in a hung jury but he was found guilty in a second trial in 2004 and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

But an appeals court threw out the conviction in March because of faulty jury instructions, and regulators reversed a decision banning Mr Quattrone from the securities industry for life.

Following the judge’s decision on Tuesday, Mr Quattrone said: ”I’m very pleased this case will be concluded and I look forward to the formal dismissal of all charges.”

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