NEW YORK (Dow Jones) - Frank Quattrone, the former star technology banker convicted of destroying evidence in an investigation of Wall Street's underwriting practices, said Wednesday that the National Association of Securities Dealers violated his constitutional rights when it barred him for life last year from the securities industry.
The former Credit Suisse First Boston Corp. banker asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to overturn the NASD's ban. In what his lawyers called a " landmark Constitutional challenge," Quattrone argued that the NASD cannot deprive him of his Fifth Amendment right not to cooperate in a probe.
A spokeswoman for the NASD, a private entity that sells its regulatory services to securities firms and is delegated by the SEC to help enforce securities rules, said she could not immediately comment because she hadn't seen the filing.
"It's not about money," said Jerome Falk, a partner at the San Francisco law firm of Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk and Rabkin, who represents Quattrone. "He feels deeply offended and angry that he didn't have the same rights as any other American under the Bill of Rights."
Quattrone made hundreds of millions of dollars helping high-tech companies go public in the dot-com boom between 1998 and 2000. He was sentenced to an 18- month prison term last year for encouraging destruction of evidence in a federal probe of analyst conflicts of interest and the way banks allocated shares of hot technology stock offerings.
Quattrone is appealing his conviction.
In appealing his employment ban, he argued that the NASD must grant individuals the same rights as other federal agencies because it is a surrogate for federal regulators in enforcement actions, Falk said. It cannot cite its status as a private entity in disregarding those rights at the same time that it often cites its quasi-governmental status as a defense when it is sued by brokers or securities firms.
"They claim entitlement to the same immunity from lawsuits that the SEC enjoys but then say that they are not part of the government when they are asked to oblige in respecting the Bill of Rights," Falk said.
If the SEC refuses to overturn Quattrone's lifetime ban from the securities industry, he will appeal in federal court, Falk said.
An SEC spokesman did not return calls for comment.
Quattrone initially cooperated with the NASD but stopped testifying in 2003 after he was informed that he was the subject of a federal criminal investigation. Although he again testified to the NASD after his conviction, a hearing panel rejected his appeal of a one-year suspension from the securities industry and increased it to a lifetime ban.
Falk said Quattrone is eager to overturn the ban because, "his lawyers have a high degree of optimism that his conviction will be overturned," permitting him to return to the securities industry.