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Legal Ethics

Baxter Lawyer Reportedly Caught on Tape Offering to Pay Opposing Expert to Leave Town

Posted Aug 17, 2011 6:55 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A lawyer in Mexico City for U.S. drug maker Baxter International was caught on tape offering to pay an opposing expert witness to get out of town on a key court date, according to sworn testimony.

The Associated Press obtained the testimony and the tape recording of the lawyer, Jorge Hernandez Marin. He tells the witness, an accountant, he will buy him a ticket to New York or Las Vegas and pay him double his expert fee, the story alleges. The case involves a dispute with a Mexican company that shipped Baxter products. The witness recorded the conversation on his personal tape recorder.

“Business remains an ethical jungle in many countries,” the story says, “but it's rare to get details on tape.”

Baxter spokeswoman Laureen Cassidy told AP that Marin was used only occasionally as a back-up lawyer for the company's outside counsel and was not authorized to contact the accountant or to offer any payment. He has since been removed from any matters involving Baxter.

"The offer to engage an expert was not intended seriously and the lawyer had no authority to offer it or act on it," Cassidy told AP. "It does not constitute bribery under Mexican law and was never acted upon." Marin did not respond to AP’s request for comment.

Under Mexican law, it is illegal to persuade an expert witness to provide false testimony or to fail to tell the truth in a legal proceeding. Criminal bribery charges are authorized only in cases involving public officials.

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