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Baker Mac lawyer guilty of money laundering and securities fraud

Editorial Staff

A lawyer, formerly with Baker & McKenzie in New York has pleaded guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to commit securities fraud while with the firm.

Martin Weisberg pleaded guilty on 21 May 2012 to charges brought by the US Department of Justice resulting from the theft of USD1.3 million from a client's account with the firm and the taking of corrupt payments while with Jenkins & Gilchrist. Jenkins no longer exists as a firm.

He resigned from Baker Mac in 2007 after the thefts were discovered.

A sentencing date has not been set.

With respect to the money laundering charge, Weisberg was engaged by a corporate client to establish a USD30 million escrow account. He advised the client that the account could not earn interest for the client’s benefit. In fact, Weisberg caused the USD30 million to be placed into an interest-bearing account. During a 14-month period, the account earned approximately USD1.6 million in interest, and Weisberg spent approximately USD1.3 million of it without the client’s knowledge, say prosecutors.

Weisberg concealed the fraud by telling his client that the bank did not send monthly account statements; Weisberg instead sent the client letters on law firm letterhead stating false account balances.With respect to the securities fraud conspiracy charge, Weisberg agreed with others to conceal his conspirators’ ownership and control of securities issued by two public companies, Xybernaut Corporation and Ramp Corporation. Weisberg was the outside counsel to Xybernaut and Ramp and was a member of Xybernaut’s board of directors. The conspirators secretly issued shares in Xybernaut and Ramp at a discounted share price to conspirators located in Israel. Those conspirators sold the shares and used the proceeds to pay kickbacks to the defendant and others in exchange for making false statements in filings with the United States Securities & Exchange Commission regarding the conspirators’ ownership and control over the securities.

Weisberg faces up to 10 years in prison on the money laundering charge and five years in prison on the securities fraud conspiracy charge.