Yahoo accused of Mexican stand-off

zapataTwo Mexican companies have sued Yahoo and law firm Baker & McKenzie in New York federal court, accusing them of engineering a conspiracy to avoid a $2.7 billion judgment.

Worldwide Directories S.A. de C.V. and Ideas Interactivas S.A. de C.V claim that Yahoo and Baker & McKenzie enlisted the help of a senior Mexican judge and other court personnel to “corrupt the appeals process and overturn the judgment.”

It all started with a contractual dispute over deals between Yahoo and the companies over an online search project in Mexico. All sides fell out and the companies filed a lawsuit in 2011 in Mexico, claiming Yahoo had breached its duties by terminating the agreements prematurely.

In December 2012, a Mexican judge issued a $2.7 billion preliminary judgment against Yahoo.

According to Thursday’s lawsuit, Yahoo and its lawyers at Baker & McKenzie successfully reduced the award to $172,500 by instructing a corrupt Mexican federal judge to meet in secret with the appellate chief judge and “intimidate” her into slashing the damages.

The appeals court also granted Yahoo a $3 million judgment on its counterclaims against the companies because of the coercion, the lawsuit said.

The company has evidence of the conspiracy in the form of sworn statements from witnesses who directly observed the misconduct, including the original trial judge who issued the judgment.

David Stone, a lawyer for the companies based in New Jersey, said the lawsuit was intended to prevent two major US corporations from “interfering with the Mexican judicial process.”