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Issues To Consider From The Sanofi Enforcement Action

Issues

This previous post highlighted the SEC’s $25.2 million FCPA enforcement action against Sanofi and this post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider.

Timeline

Sanofi’s FCPA scrutiny began in mid-2014 (see this prior post). Thus, from start to finish, its scrutiny lasted approximately 4 years.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record to regular readers … if the FCPA enforcement agencies want the public to have confidence in their FCPA enforcement programs, they must resolve instances of FCPA scrutiny much quicker. The validity and credibility of FCPA enforcement depends on this. Having FCPA scrutiny linger for over four years is inexcusable particularly since Sanofi, in the words of the SEC:

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Foreign Subsidiaries Of French Pharma Company Sanofi Allegedly Bribe Kazakh And Middle Eastern “Foreign Officials” – Uncle Sam Collects $25.2 Million

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If history is any guide, September is likely to be an active month for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement as the SEC’s fiscal year ends.

Sure enough, yesterday the SEC announced an enforcement action against Paris-based pharmaceutical company Sanofi. The conduct at issue focused on employees and agents of the company’s subsidiaries in Kazakstan and various Middle Eastern countries providing things of value to “foreign officials, including healthcare professionals, in order to improperly influence them and increase sales of Sanofi products.”

In doing so, the enforcement action once again raises the policy issue of the U.S. bringing an enforcement action against a foreign company (domiciled in a country also party to the OECD Convention) for its interaction with non-U.S. officials. (See here for a prior post).

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FCPA And Then Some As Alere Resolves SEC Enforcement Action

alere

One instance of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act scrutiny that has attracted significant investor interest over the past few years (because it occurred in the context of an M&A transaction) involved Alere Inc.

As highlighted in this previous post, the company disclosed in August 2015 that it received an SEC subpoena inquiring about its foreign business practices. Thereafter, Alere announced that it would be acquired by Abbott in a $5.8 billion transaction.

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Biomet Becomes An FCPA Repeat Offender

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For many years, the DOJ has advanced the policy position that DPAs and NPAs “have had a truly transformative effect on particular companies and, more generally, on corporate culture across the globe.” (See here for the prior post). Specifically in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act context, the DOJ has stated that “the companies against which DPAs and NPAs have been brought have often undergone dramatic changes.”  (See here for the prior post).

As highlighted here, in March 2012 Biomet resolved an FCPA enforcement action involving alleged conduct in Brazil, Argentina, and China by agreeing to pay approximately $22.8 million ($17.3 million via a DOJ deferred prosecution agreement, and $5.5 million via a settled SEC civil complaint).

Since then, FCPA Professor has chronicled (herehere and here) how Biomet’s DPA was extended, how the DOJ ultimately came to conclude that Biomet had breached its DPA based on subsequent improper conduct, and how an additional FCPA enforcement was expected.

Last week, the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) the additional FCPA enforcement action against Zimmer Biomet Holdings (in 2015 Zimmer Holdings acquired Biomet) and Biomet. As highlighted below, a portion of the improper conduct involved the same distributor in Brazil that gave rise to the 2012 FCPA enforcement action.

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In-Depth – General Cable Resolves $75.8 Million FCPA Enforcement Action, Former Senior VP Also Resolves SEC Action

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Don’t yet close the books on 2016 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement.

Yesterday, the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) an FCPA (and related) enforcement action against Kentucky-based General Cable Corporation (a manufacturer and distributor of cable and wire). The conduct at issue occurred in Angola, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, China, and Egypt.

The $75.8 million enforcement action involved a DOJ non-prosecution agreement in which the company agreed to pay an approximate $20.5 million penalty and an SEC administrative cease and desist order in which the company agreed to pay approximately $55.3 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest.

In addition, the SEC also announced that Karl Zimmer, General Cable’s former Senior Vice President responsible for sales in Angola, agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings that he knowingly circumvented internal accounting controls and caused FCPA violations when he approved certain improper payments.

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