Southern District of New York Judge Lewis Kaplan had some strong words for a prosecutor on Wednesday as he wrapped up a hearing on whether the government coerced KPMG into threatening to cut off legal fees for employees and partners who refused to cooperate with an investigation into allegedly illegal tax shelters.

As Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Weinstein insisted that KPMG capped or cut off legal fees to non-cooperators on its own, Kaplan indicated that he did not believe it and that the evidence showed the government used a whiphand to influence legal fee policy at an accounting firm that was doing everything it could to avoid what would be tantamount to a corporate death penalty.

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