Prosecutors are urging a U.S. district Judge to dismiss indictments against 13 of executives of Big Four firm KPMG on charges of marketing illegal tax shelters. According to The Wall Street Journal U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan had previously ruled that the government had overreached in its years-long investigation, violating the defendants' constitutional rights to counsel and due process. In a June 22 filing in federal court in Manhattan, prosecutors said that Kaplan's decision showed that there was a fundamental flaw in the proceedings and that he must dismiss the indictments. As a result, 13 of the 18 defendants may now never stand trial, including the accounting giant's former vice chairman, Jeffrey Stein, the highest-ranking executive named in the indictment. However, legal experts opined the petition was a strategy to allow allowing prosecutors to appeal Kaplan's ruling, a maneuver that may yet allow prosecutors to resume the proceedings against all 18 of the defendants. The indictments were initially handed down in 2005 accusing the defendants of selling fraudulent tax shelters from 1996 through 2002, that cost the government some $2.5 billion in revenues. In striking an agreement to escape a potentially fatal criminal indictment that could have shuttered the firm, KPMG agreed to pay a $456 million fine to the federal government and spend the next 16 months on probation overseen by a federal monitor. The firm also agreed to close its tax business for high-net-worth individuals. Kaplan has scheduled a hearing July 2. A decision regarding the government's argument, as well as the motions to dismiss the indictments, could be issued this summer.
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