Warning - This post comes with my usual - I am not a lawyer - caveat. I am not asking about the legal duties of lawyers in the US - rather about the ethical standards that should apply to them.
I once put on my blog – without comment – a letter to clients written by Francesco Rusciano of the Ponta Negra fund.
I did not think it made sense because the stated returns were not possible with the strategy described. I asked my readers for their views. Bluntly, on just reading two of their letters I thought fraud was a fair guess and so did a fair number of my readers.
That was only marginally interesting to me – this financial market is riddled with fraud and Ponta Negra was only small. What was interesting to me was that Ponta Negra was housed in the same office, shared a phone number and marketing agent with Paradigm Global – a fund of hedge funds owned by Hunter and James Biden. Hunter and James are the Vice President’s son and brother respectively.
Since then Ponta Negra has been closed by a Federal Judge, and is facing civil charges. Francesco Rusciano is facing wire fraud charges. The SEC and Federal Prosecutors are alleging a fraud that I could only guess at. The Biden’s lawyer has stated that Ponta Negra were subtenants. I have summarised the issues surrounding Paradigm Global in this post.
That however is not my purpose today. When I wrote the original post I received threatening letters from Ponta Negra’s lawyers. Douglas R Hirsch, a partner at Sadis Goldberg asked me to destroy all documents I had from Ponta Negra and “certify in an affidavit” that I had done so. This was only a few weeks before charges were laid against Ponta Negra – and almost certainly whilst investigations were ongoing.
Now if Ponta Negra’s lawyers did not have any reason to suspect that investigations were going on into Ponta Negra then I guess the request I got was not obstruction of justice. But this would mean that Douglas Hirsch is hopelessly naïve – because the letters looked prima-facie suspect. Besides Douglas Hirsch read the letters on my blog and thought that I was alleging fraud – which means he thought that I thought the letters were suspect.
So (at a minimum) a lawyer asked me to destroy a document that he thought might be evidence in something he thought that I thought was a crime.
Even if he thought that there was no investigation and that no crime existed doesn’t that constitute an ethical lapse?