In summations on Monday, federal prosecutors said former leaders of the municipal securities division of UBS Financial Services are guilty of rigging bids for muni bond contracts, while defense attorneys argued they are victims of malicious accusations by the actual perpetrators.
Arguments in the trial of Peter Ghavami, Gary Heinz and Michael Welty were expected to conclude Tuesday afternoon in the New York City courthouse.
The defendants are being charged with up to seven counts. In each count, UBS has a different role and-or they were allegedly operating with a different co-conspirator. The co-conspirators for the first six counts are Bank of America, JPMorgan, CDR Financial Services and GE Funding Capital Market Services Inc, according to the prosecution.
The seventh count is against Heinz exclusively, accusing him of witness tampering.
Multiple cases of bid-rigging were involved in each count, U.S. attorney John Van Lonkhuyzen said in his summation. Van Lonkhuyzen told the jurors to pay attention to a wide range of evidence for each count: testimony, recorded phone calls, emails, paper documents and unusual financial results.
Van Lonkhuyzen played excerpts from telephone calls involving the defendants that he said suggested their guilt. He focused on particular bond deals that he said exemplified the illegal practices of the defendants.
The defendants “lied, cheated and stole” when they worked at UBS, the prosecutor said. The defendants effectively stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from municipalities, he said.
In his summation, defense lawyer Charles Stillman acknowledged that there had been bid-rigging at UBS but suggested that it was largely led by former UBS professional Mark Zaino. Zaino has pled guilty to three criminal counts.
Zaino and others who testified against the three former UBS professionals at this trial are motivated by a wish to reduce potential criminal sentences, Stillman told the jury.
Evidence against former UBS managing director Ghavami was slight, Stillman told the jury. Stillman is Ghavami’s attorney in the case.
The prosecutors have only played nine minutes of recorded telephone conversations with Ghavami’s voice on it, Stillman noted. When a prosecuting attorney made an opening speech to the jury, there was a two-inch stack of papers on the podium, but there was only one sheet in that stack that had Ghavami’s name on it, Stillman said.
Zaino’s testimony against the defendants was contradicted by that of other witnesses, Stillman said.
While the prosecutors have claimed that Alexander Wright, former vice president of the JPMorgan municipal derivatives marketing group, engaged in illegal collaboration with Ghavami’s UBS, Stillman said email evidence submitted shows that they were rivals.
Judge Kimba Wood was expected to charge the jury Monday afternoon, possibly allowing the jury to commence deliberations on Tuesday morning.