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Friday Roundup

Roundup

No comment, scrutiny alert, when the obvious is not so obvious, quotable, undercover, follow-up, and for the reading stack. It’s all here in the Friday roundup.

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The recent FCPA enforcement action against Chile-based LAN Airlines (in which the company paid $22 million to resolve DOJ and SEC enforcement actions concerning an alleged payment to resolve an Argentina labor dispute) suggested that both Argentine and Chilean law enforcement officials had commenced investigations of the conduct approximately five years ago.

I’ve tried to find information in the public domain regarding these apparent law enforcement investigations but have generally struck out.

For instance, I contacted LAN’s investor relations office and posed the following question:

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AstraZeneca Coughs Up $5.5 Million To Resolve FCPA Action

Astra

Say an English company has Chinese and Russian subsidiaries which, approximately 6-10 years ago, provided various things of value to physicians in those countries.

The end result?

Why of course $5.5 million to the U.S. Treasury because the English company has American Depositary Shares registered with the SEC.

The above description is not make-believe, but a summary of a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action released yesterday by the SEC against AstraZeneca Plc (a United Kingdom biopharmaceutical company).

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In Connection With A 2006 Argentine Labor Dispute, Chilean Airline Pays U.S. Government $22 Million

LATAM

Five months ago, the SEC brought a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Ignacio Cueto Plaza (“Cueto”), the Chilean CEO of Santiago, Chile based LAN Airlines S.A. (“LAN”) for authorizing payments in 2006 and 2007 to a third party consultant in Argentina in connection with LAN’s attempts to settle disputes on wages and other work conditions between LAN Argentina S.A. (“LAN Argentina”), a subsidiary of LAN, and its employees.

Yesterday, the DOJ and SEC returned to the same conduct by announcing (here and here) parallel FCPA enforcement actions against LAN.

In short, the end result of an old labor dispute between a Chilean airline and Argentine workers is approximately $22 million flowing into the U.S. Treasury because LAN has shares that are traded on a U.S. exchange.

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Novartis Coughs Up $25 Million To Resolve FCPA Enforcement Action Based On Conduct Of Indirect Chinese Subsidiaries

Novartis

What happens when a Swiss corporation, with over 120,000 employees, has two indirect Chinese subsidiaries and a few employees of those subsidiaries, who concealed their conduct from the parent corporation, allegedly provided various things of value (such as an excursion to Niagara falls, spa and sauna sessions, and cover charges to a strip club) to various Chinese healthcare professionals?

Why of course, $25 million to the U.S. treasury because the Swiss corporation has shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Yesterday, the SEC announced this Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement action against Novartis.

By my count, it is the 22nd FCPA enforcement against a healthcare related company (i.e. pharma, medical device, etc.) premised on the enforcement theory (regardless of whether the action was resolved “merely” through books and records and internal controls issues) that employees of certain foreign health care systems are “foreign officials” under the FCPA and thus occupy a status similar to Presidents and Prime Ministers and other bona fide government officials.

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Just When You Think You’ve Seen It All – Along Comes The Nordion (Canada) Inc. Enforcement Action

kidding me

There have been several Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement actions in the past 30 days or so.

But, just when you think you’ve seen it all in FCPA enforcement-land, along comes the Nordion (Canada) Inc. enforcement action announced yesterday by the SEC.

The basic findings, as set forth in this administrative order, were as follows.

Approximately 16 years ago, Mikhail Gourevitch (a dual Canadian and Israeli citizen who was fired years ago by Nordion) represented to the company that “his purported childhood friend from Russia” could help the company’s business in Russia.

Gourevitch and this eventual agent “conspired to use a portion of the funds Nordion paid the Agent to bribe Russian government officials to obtain approval for TheraSphere” a liver cancer therapy.

Gourevitch also received kickbacks from the Agent and otherwise “hid the scheme from Nordion” through, among other things, misrepresentations to his employer. In the words of the SEC, through his conduct Gourevitch “secretly enrich[ed] himself” and received “at least $100,000 for his role in the arrangement which was not disclosed to Nordion.”

In August 2014, Nordion was acquired by Nordion (Canada) Inc., a privately held company. The SEC’s order finds that Nordion (not the actual Respondent in the action Nordion (Canada) Inc.) violated the FCPA’s books and records and internal controls provisions and Nordion (Canada) Inc. agreed, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, agreed to pay $375,000.

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