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Former Sidley Austin Tax Partner Declines to Testify


— November 24, 2003

A former partner at the law firm of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP yesterday invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid answering questions from a Senate subcommittee about his role in the selling of millions of dollars worth of tax shelters.

E-mails and other documents obtained by the subcommittee indicate that Raymond J. Ruble provided as many as 300 legal-opinion letters — at fees of at least $50,000 apiece — to accounting giant KPMG LLP and its clients saying that tax benefits from the shelter deals were “more likely than not” to survive a challenge from the Internal Revenue Service.

Ruble has been “expelled” from the law firm for taking undisclosed compensation and committing other violations of partnership agreements, a current partner, Thomas R. Smith Jr., testified. Smith said that Ruble continued his activities after being discovered and told to stop. “In fact, he lied about it . . . and evaded our procedures,” which were designed to ensure that such letters were reviewed by others in the firm.

“I’m absolutely apoplectic that this happened and embarrassed,” Smith said.

300 letters at $50,000 each adds up to $15 million. The Washington Post has the story here.


A former partner at the law firm of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP yesterday invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid answering questions from a Senate subcommittee about his role in the selling of millions of dollars worth of tax shelters.

E-mails and other documents obtained by the subcommittee indicate that Raymond J. Ruble provided as many as 300 legal-opinion letters — at fees of at least $50,000 apiece — to accounting giant KPMG LLP and its clients saying that tax benefits from the shelter deals were “more likely than not” to survive a challenge from the Internal Revenue Service.

Ruble has been “expelled” from the law firm for taking undisclosed compensation and committing other violations of partnership agreements, a current partner, Thomas R. Smith Jr., testified. Smith said that Ruble continued his activities after being discovered and told to stop. “In fact, he lied about it . . . and evaded our procedures,” which were designed to ensure that such letters were reviewed by others in the firm.

“I’m absolutely apoplectic that this happened and embarrassed,” Smith said.

300 letters at $50,000 each adds up to $15 million. The Washington Post has the story here.

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