Monday, July 5, 2010
In a highly unusual move, DOJ issued a letter vindicating an individual who had suffered as a result of a side agreement that had been entered with a 2007 Deferred Prosecution Agreement with American Express. Sergio Masvidal, former American Express Bank International Chair filed a suit charging that his constitutional rights had been violated when the court approved a settlement without knowledge that DOJ had a separate agreement to not employ Masvidal upon a sale of the bank or at the end of the one-year deferred prosecution agreement. He claimed that the result was a loss of "his job, reputation and prospects in the banking industry." DOJ filed a Motion to Dismiss this action, but Hon. William P. Dimitrouleas of the S.D. of Florida issued an opinion denying the government's motion finding "that the DOJ has not shown its entitlement to dismissal of the due process claim on the ground of privilege." (see 2010 WL 1956734)
The DOJ has now issued a letter acknowledging that it had "entered into a separate letter agreement, which prohibited Mr. Masvidal from being employed by any entity that purchased AEBI, or from continued employment with AEBI if no purchaser were found, unless the Department of Justice consented in advance to such employment." Additionally, they acknowledged that this agreement "was not presented to the District Court that was considering the DPA." The clearing letter being issued now tells that its investigation "did not reveal any evidence that Mr. Masvidal had committed any criminal offenses or violated any banking regulations" and that it was terminating the letter agreement's restrictions. Masvidal was represented by Attorney Joseph DeMaria.
Letter - Download Final Letter (Executed)
Commentary - It is good to see DOJ issuing this letter, but this is another indication of why terms within DPAs need to be disclosed, and why courts need to monitor the agreements. More importantly, government interference with third party contract and employment rights needs to be prohibited. Finally, seeing DOJ move to dismiss this complaint on January 11, 2010 is troubling in light of their recent admission that "[s]uch undisclosed letter agreements are not part of the Criminal Division's practice."