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Defining and Defending Obstruction Charges in the Wake of Arthur Andersen and Quattrone
By Kathryn Keneally, Kenneth M. Breen
White-Collar Crime columns.
The prosecution of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen for its destruction of documents as the Enron scandal unfolded marked a watershed moment in the prosecution of white collar crime. The sensation that the Arthur Andersen case created was heightened by Congress’ prompt inclusion in the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation of new document destruction offenses with steep sentences. Corporations have since devoted great efforts to tightening up document retention policies, and defense counsel have paid more attention to counseling their clients about document preservation once a government investigation becomes probable. Still, the borderline between valid document retention practices and criminal liability for document destruction has been an area of uncertainty.
Some four years later, the borderline is starting to take shape, particularly in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling last year in Arthur Andersen v. United States and the Second Circuit’s recent ruling in United States v. Quattrone.1 I
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