AUSWR
The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

Ex-Qwest Lawyer never called to stand
By Tom McGhee, Staff Writer
Denver Post 
Monday, April 16, 2007

Yash Rana, a one-time lawyer for Qwest who helped Joe Nacchio sell stock, is a background figure in Nacchio's trial on charges of insider trading.

During four weeks of trial, his name was mentioned repeatedly by prosecutors telling jurors about a document that Rana prepared for Nacchio, who at the time was Qwest chief executive.

But Rana, a Columbia Law School graduate who was Qwest's vice president for legal affairs, never took the stand, instead telling attorneys for both sides he would invoke the Fifth Amendment exercising his right against self-incrimination if called to testify.

Rana, who is now an associate with New York law firm Goodwin Procter, referred a reporter's call to his Denver attorney, Thomas Johnson.  Johnson was traveling and couldn't be reached Friday.

On Tuesday, outside of the jury's hearing, prosecutor Cliff Stricklin argued that Rana feared he would be incriminated in Nacchio's alleged backdating of the document, which gave Nacchio's order to sell $14 million in stock.  The stock sales are included in an indictment that charges Nacchio with insider trading in his sale of $100.8 million in shares and options.

Stricklin said Rana submitted a form to the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of Nacchio that said on Jan 2, 2001, Nacchio had no material, nonpublic information about the company that would bar him from selling under insider trading rules.

But, according to a transcript of the discussion, Stricklin said Rana crossed out the section of the document -- a Form 144 -- that included the date, telling the SEC to see instead an attached order to sell that was dated Nov. 3, 2000.

"It (the Form 144) was not signed -- if he believed he had no material nonpublic information, he could have signed it on the day that it was filed.  But instead, that part is crossed out.  And it's referenced back to Nov. 3," Stricklin said.

Nacchio defense attorney John Richilano suggested a different reason in the transcript of the sidebar conference:  Rana was suspected "of some sort of criminal involvement in connection" with a separate investigation that led to a former Qwest executive vice president pleading guilty to one count of wire fraud.

Rana was also investigated for a directive "to destroy documents too close to a time when a subpoena hit Qwest," Richilano told U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham during the sidebar conference.

"He may well think that, you know, if he testifies, that would open the door to those areas," Richilano said.

The jury, which will return to deliberations this morning at 8:45, will have a chance to decide if the SEC document backs up the government's allegations, or if there is another reason for confusion surrounding the date.

Jurors saw the backdated election to sell several times during the trial and heard prosecutors hint that it proved that Nacchio knew that selling his stock in January violated the insider-trading regulations.

But they didn't get a gander at the SEC Form 144, with its crossed-out Jan. 2 date, until Stricklin made the prosecution's final arguments in the case Wednesday.

"If you truly believe that you were not in possession on Jan. 2 of material nonpublic information, you'd go ahead and sign the document.  You wouldn't strike it out," Stricklin told the jury.

Staff writer Tom McGhee can be reached at 303-954-1671 or tmcghee@denverpost.com.

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_5674840