16 July 2007

Feds Screw Up KPMG Criminal Tax Shelter Case

The federal government indicted 19 people in connection with allegedly criminal tax shelter activities by mega-accounting firm KPMG. It also pressured KPMG not to provide legal defenses for its employees, and declined to indict (and in turn destroy) the firm as payback. The trial court judge in the criminal case has now dismissed the federal criminal cases against 13 of those defendants as a result of the federal government's attempt to prevent KPMG from helping to fund the employee's criminal defense counsel.

One defendant pleaded guilty. Cases against 3 ex-KPMG employees who likely wouldn't have gotten legal defense assistance from KPMG anyway, and 2 non-employees remain, but a huge part of the prosecution case has now been destroyed. More intelligent commentary, suggesting that Justice may have screwed up a shot at an appellate review they were trying to get of the trial judge's decision may be found here.

The defeat is more than a mere defeat in one case for the government. It repudiates a major strategy of the federal government which is a Justice Department policy, for prosecuting white collar cases.

Bottom line: 13 people who might very well have been guilty, but had a fighting chance at trial are off the hook; 5 more are in a better position than they were before, and the government has egg on its face.

I don't know how parallel civil proceedings (and I assume that they exist) fared.

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