Cognizant India corruption case: Cognizant takes Bohrer PLLC law firm to court for overcharging

Chennai: Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. filed a lawsuit against a New York-based law firm, accusing it of fraudulently overcharging the IT services company at least $ 20 million.

Cognizant’s petition filed with the District Court for the Southern District of New York alleged that Bohrer PLLC and his managing partner, Jeremy I. Bohrer, charged him millions of dollars in fees and expenses for work they did not have. not performed as billed, or performed for a fraction of the cost billed.

Bohrer PLLC was one of five law firms hired by former Cognizant General Counsel Steven E. Schwartz to defend him against lawsuits brought by the US Department of Justice under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a case where he would have been allowed to pay $ 1.6. millions of dollars in bribes to Indian government officials to obtain a building permit for its campus on the outskirts of Chennai.

Cognizant was legally obligated to provide Schwartz with reasonable legal fees and expenses incurred by the companies representing him, the company said in the June 16 petition, which ET acceded to. “But the legal fees and expenses submitted by Bohrer PLLC were not reasonable,” he said.

Cognizant has demanded compensation of at least $ 20 million for its monetary losses. The New Jersey-based company also sought punitive damages against the law firm and legal fees.

Cognizant and Bohrer did not respond to emails from ET requesting comment at the time of this story’s publication.

“In addition to contractual obligations, lawyers in New York State are governed by the New York Lawyer’s Code of Professional Responsibility, which contains various rules, including charging the client reasonable and proportionate fees,” said Ashish. K. Singh, co-founder and co-manager. partner at Capstone Legal.

Cognizant also alleged that Bohrer hired suppliers in which he had a stake to work on the Schwartz case, but did not disclose this conflict of interest.

The company said a whistleblower alerted it to Bohrer’s conduct.

He then hired an investigative firm to determine the veracity of the whistleblower’s email. The investigation found that Bohrer PLLC’s invoices “eclipsed those submitted by the other four companies defending Schwartz. At times, Bohrer PLLC’s monthly fees were more than double the amounts billed by the other four companies combined,” Cognizant said. .

The company said it refused to pay Bohrer’s bills in 2019 and the case went to a US court.

Bohrer had also billed Cognizant for the document review at a 600% mark-up over the cost of third-party attorneys who contracted out the review, the company said.

Read also:
L&T washes its hands of the corruption case of former Cognizant employees in the United States

Schwartz and former Cognizant chairman Gordon Coburn were indicted in February 2019 by the US Department of Justice for authorizing the payment of bribes. They have also been found in violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, forging books and records, and failing to implement internal accounting controls.

Cognizant had settled the FCPA violation charges by paying $ 25 million to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission in February 2019.


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