Ex-Mayer Brown Partner Knew Zip re Client’s $2.4B Fraud, His Lawyer Says
Posted May 14, 2009 12:22 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
A lawyer for a former Mayer Brown partner started outlining his client's defense yesterday in a federal trial that began in New York this week over what prosecutors describe as attorney Joseph Collins' help to high-level executives at Refco Inc. in concealing a $2.4 billion corporate fraud.
The three executives have now pleaded guilty or been convicted in a fraud case concerning massive hidden debt and sham transactions that bankrupted the financial services company, and Collins is accused of helping them conceal these transactions even though he didn't personally profit from them, according to the New York Law Journal.
His lawyer, William Schwartz of Cooley Godward Kronish, portrayed the 59-year-old Collins as an honest attorney duped by the Refco executives' lies and emphasized the lack of motive for a nationally known lawyer who was billing by the hour to participate in a client's fraud from which he derived no financial benefit. Schwartz also pointed out that it was not Collins' job, as a lawyer, to investigate his client's books and crunch the numbers in an accountant-like manner, the legal publication recounts.
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Garcia told the jury that Collins did have a motive:
"Why? Why did this defendant lie for Refco?" asked Garcia rhetorically. "Because it was his biggest client from 1997 through the collapse of Refco. This man made more than $40 million for his firm."
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