As you all know, I promised to use this forum as a platform for anyone who took issues with the book to provide me feedback and corrections, if I got anything wrong. I was recently contacted by a communications consultant for Frank Quattrone, one of the most formidable investment bankers of the dot com era. I made a passing reference to Frank in my book, and he clearly disagreed with my observations. Bob Chlopak, Communications Consultant to Frank Quattrone, drafted a statement, which I post in full below. I’m happy to do the same for any source or character in the work who feels similarly.
”The Search” mischaracterizes Frank Quattrone’s case. The book makes reference to the right to privacy for personal email and says:
“While the more sophisticated e-mail user among us has grown to understand the folly of this assumption in a corporate environment, the idea that e-mail is an ephemeral medium is still widely held. In 2003, Frank Quattrone, one of the technology sector’s most powerful bankers and hardly a computing rube, was brought down by such a presumption when incriminating e-mails were used as evidence against him in a widely publicized trial.”
Mr. Quattrone did not regard email as private or ephemeral. There is substantial evidence of just the opposite – that he knew email created a lasting record available to many parties. For instance, there was an email shown at trial–in fact, a pre-cursor of the one to which he wrote his now-infamous reply– where Quattrone admonished a colleague for making inappropriate comments on email. When asked about the admonishment, he testified that “email is a medium that lasts forever.” There was testimony during his trials that Quattrone was well aware that CSFB backed up its system including emails, and that he rarely if ever discarded his own emails. His assistant testified that he even needed extra storage because his emails overwhelmed his system. Most importantly, Quattrone hit ‘reply to all’ to write his December 5 email and sent it to a broadcast list including hundreds of bankers — an action that appears neither private nor ephemeral.
This passage also says that “incriminating e-mails” were used against Quattrone at trial. One of Quattrone’s contentions on appeal is that his emails were innocent on their face, rather than crimes or evidence of them. The 22-word December 5 email, for instance, does nothing more than encourage employees to follow the company’s document retention policy–a policy that was in effect at the time, and one that CSFB’s lawyers who (unlike Quattrone) had seen the subpoenas had chosen not to suspend for months. The defense argued that, in sending this email, Quattrone had a proper purpose, intending only to lend support to his subordinate whose underlying email urged colleagues to comply with CSFB’s document retention policy, which all employees were required to follow at the time. Rather than the e-mails in evidence being incriminating, the defense view is that Quattrone was wrongly convicted because 1) there was no evidence that Quattrone knew that subpoenas called for the documents referred to in his e-mail reply, nor evidence that Quattrone harbored corrupt intent; and 2) the trial judge made various errors that resulted in an unfair trial. Among them were his refusal to allow a number of exonerating emails (also not ephemeral) into evidence that would have shown (a) that Quattrone had a management practice of sending seconding emails much like his December 5 message; (b) that lawyers at CSFB deliberately departed from their normal practice and did not notify Quattrone and thousands of other bankers that documents they held were subject to subpoena (which only the lawyers had seen) and had to be retained; and (c) that Quattrone was never under investigation or even interviewed regarding the underlying investigation, was cleared of any involvement in the allegations and subsequently promoted to CSFB’s Executive Board by new CEO John Mack. The concept of incriminating emails is disputed strongly by the defense and is now a question for the Court of Appeals.
Finally, the book makes reference to Quattrone being “brought down”. Mr. Quattrone’s case has been appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and he remains free pending the appeal. The case has been fully briefed and argued but the Court has not yet ruled, so the outcome of the appeal and the final verdict in Mr. Quattrone’s case has yet to be determined. Mr. Quattrone continues to enjoy strong support in the technology community–hundreds of clients and colleagues wrote letters of strong support to the judge on his behalf, he continues as a Director and fundraiser for The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, and most recently was honored by clients and colleagues who joined together to contribute over $500,000 to his newest cause, The Innocence Project, which helps free innocent citizens who are in prison for crimes they did not commit and do not have the resources to challenge their wrongful convictions. “Brought down” conveys both a sense of finality and completeness that is not the case here. Mr. Quattrone continues to defend himself steadfastly and remains confident his conviction will be overturned.