Lawyer Jorge Hernandez Marin had a novel alleged approach to an opposing expert in litigation on behalf of drug maker Baxter International: take this ticket, money, and don’t call me in the morning. Marin was reportedly caught on tape offering to double the fee of the opposing expert, accountant Rafael Aspuru Alvarez, and giving him a free ticket to Las Vegas or some other city if he made himself unavailable.
Marin is shown telling the expert:
“Tomorrow I’ll buy you a ticket to New York. You go to New York with your wife. And you say that your son fell. He broke his leg on a bicycle in Manhattan and you had to go. And that’s why you didn’t accept the assignment. If it’s better for you, and you tell me, ‘You know, yes, I accept your offer’ — it’s an example— ‘You know, but not New York, I want to go to Las Vegas.’ Tomorrow, eh?
. . .
If you tell me, ‘You know, I was going to charge 100,000 pesos (about $8,100),’ I’ll pay you double.”
Baxter spokeswoman Laureen Cassidy is quoted as saying the offer was not serious or approved by the company and “does not constitute bribery under Mexican law and was never acted upon.”
Yet, on the recording, Marin tells the expert “I told the company.”
The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Acts makes it a crime to bribe foreign officials to obtain or retain business. This expert is not an official, but it is not clear whether the Justice Department will try to read the term broadly (as it has in the past) to extend beyond government officials. I find that interpretation to be at odds with the clear text of the statute, but courts have been remarkably loose in allowing such broader interpretations.