|HEARING AIDE By CHRISTOPHER BYRON and RODDY BOYD|
LAWYER FINAGLES HILL AUDIENCE
By CHRISTOPHER BYRON and RODDY BOYD
June 28, 2006 -- A lawyer who once sent private investigators to rummage through the trash of a Wall Street analyst who had soured on a client will be addressing Capitol Hill today as a shareholder advocate.
Marc Kasowitz, who is appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the role of hedge funds and independent stock analysts, is the lead counsel for the Canadian company Biovail Inc. in its suit against New Jersey-based Rocker Partners and Arizona research firm Gradient Analytics.
The Web site witness list for today's hearing describes Kasowitz only as a representative of the Alliance For Investment Transparency.
The Post has reported that one of Kasowitz's clients, Biovail, used his law firm's private investigators to repeatedly hunt through the garbage of Jerry Treppel, a former Banc of America Securities Analyst, who has been involved in a multiyear legal feud with the company.
A spokesman for the Alliance, Michael Sitrick, said several of Kasowitz's legal clients felt they had been harmed by abusive short-selling. He refused to disclose the Alliance's other corporate members.
Sitrick said the Alliance was formed only recently and that it operates out of Kasowitz's New York law offices. But switchboard operators at the law firm said yesterday they had never heard of the group and until now had received no phone calls for it.
A search of state and federal records revealed no document trail showing that such an entity actually exists.
An advance copy of Kasowitz's testimony did not go into the extensive legal woes of his client, Biovail, a Canadian drug company under intense regulatory scrutiny in both the U.S. and Canada.
In February, Biovail filed suit against a host of hedge funds and independent research shops for allegedly conspiring to drive down its stock price.
The hearing is a culmination of intense behind-the-scenes political maneuvering by Biovail and Overstock.com, a Utah-based Internet retailer that has made the fight against naked short-selling a corporate obsession and is pursuing similar claims against the same group of hedge funds and analysts.
One Capitol Hill veteran said the Judiciary Committee's decision to hold the hearings was due in part to Biovail's choice of lobbyists: Makan Delrahim, a former aide to Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch.
While he denied to The Post that he influenced the committee, he said that he has "worked hard to present [Biovail's] concerns about unfair analyst and hedge fund collaboration to policy makers."