Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Three Jenkens & Gilchrist Lawyers in the Cross-Hairs for Tax Shelter Sales

While prosecutors in New York are dealing with the first skirmishes in the 19-defendant KPMG tax shelter prosecution, they are also looking at the enablers of the shelter sales by investigating three tax lawyers from Jenkens & Gilchrist.  The lawyers, Paul Daugerdas, Erwin Mayer, and Donna Guerin, provided opinion letters used to support the tax shelters sold by KMPG to a number of wealthy individuals.  A New York Times article (here) states that a grand jury in the Southern District of New York is investigating the opinion letters provided by the firm that most likely will focus on whether they were simply cookie-cutter documents that were not adequately supported while designed to mislead the IRS on the appropriateness of the tax treatment of income and capital gains.  The Times article notes that Daugerdas earned $93 million in fees in from 1999 to 2003 from the issuance of the letters, while Mayer earned $28 million and Guerin $4 million over the same period.  Jenkens & Gilchrist received $267 million in fees from the tax shelter business, although not all of that was generated by the issuance of the opinion letters.  The firm has already agreed to an $81 million settlement with individuals who purchased tax shelters from KPMG supported by the firm's opinion letters (see earlier post here).  In addition, Daugerdas and Meyer are no longer with the firm and Guerin is no long an equity partner.  It will be interesting to see if any of the lawyers will agree to cooperate with the government and agree to testify in the pending KPMG tax shelter prosecution. (ph)

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