Lawsuits Continue To Pursue Summers After Leaving D.C. - Crimson Online

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Lawsuits Continue To Pursue Summers After Leaving D.C.

By DAVID H. GELLIS
Crimson Staff Writer

Currency bearing University President Lawrence H. Summers' signature isn't the only lingering reminder of his time as Treasury Secretary. This week, a U.S. District Court judge in Boston scheduled an October 9 hearing on a motion to dismiss a lawsuit that names Summers as a defendant.

The suit is fallout from Summers' time as a public official—and only one of many suits targeting him.

And one of the motions to be debated at the hearing is whether Summers can continue to be held liable as a private citizen. Current Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill automatically replaces his predecessor when charges are leveled against Summers in his official capacity, but the Plaintiff in this suit maintains that he is suing Summers as an individual.

The suit, filed by Reginald H. Howe '62 in Boston last December, accuses the defendants, who in addition to Summers include Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan, officials of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), and four major banks, "of manipulative activities in the gold market" and of violating the Sherman Anti-Trust and Security Exchange Acts.

The suit stems from a shareholder buyout by the BIS. But Howe said he's using this primary complaint as a platform from which to allege price fixing of the gold market—the claim that he said implicates Summers. The suit says that as Secretary, Summers acted improperly to suppress gold prices.

The suit is being funded by the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, a group founded in 1999 by financial commentator Bill Murphy to advocate legal action against the key U.S. players in the gold market.

"If we're right, it will be much bigger than Watergate," Murphy said.

Summers has not responded to the suit, and could not be reached for comment.

Motions to substitute O'Neill and dismiss the suit are being handled by the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston.

Arguments to dismiss the lawsuit vary among the defendant parties, and include arguments about jurisdiction as well as the merits of the case.

Judge Reginald Lindsay will hear debate on the motions at the October hearing.

In a press release, Howe noted the timing of the hearing—three days before Summers is officially installed as University President at inauguration ceremonies—heightens the drama of the case.

—Staff writer David H. Gellis can be reached at gellis@fas.harvard.edu.