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Healthcare Professionals As “Foreign Officials”

healthcare providers

It is one of the more dubious FCPA enforcement theories there is.  It has never been subjected to judicial scrutiny.  It is a relatively new enforcement theory when one considers that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was enacted in 1977.  It is an enforcement theory that has been used 30 times since introduced to the FCPA context in 2002 and thus is one of the reasons for the general increase in FCPA enforcement in the modern era.

It is the enforcement theory that employees (such as physicians, nurses, mid-wives, lab personnel, etc.) of certain foreign health care systems are “foreign officials” under the FCPA and thus occupy a status akin to a President or Prime Minister.

This post traces the origins and prominence of this theory,  contains comments from the former DOJ FCPA enforcement attorney who came up with this theory, and highlights a data point relevant to the legitimacy and validity of this theory.

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Issues To Consider From The Fresenius Enforcement Action

Issues

This previous post went in-depth into the approximate $232 million Fresenius FCPA enforcement action and this post continues the analysis by highlighting additional issues to consider.

Timeline

As highlighted in this prior post, Fresenius disclosed its FCPA scrutiny in August 2012. Thus from start to finish, its FCPA scrutiny lasted an unconscionable 6.5 years.

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Fresenius Medical Care Pays Approximately $232 Million To Resolve Its Long-Standing FCPA Scrutiny

fresenius

German healthcare firm Fresenius Medical Care AG (a company with American Depositary Receipt shares traded on the NYSE) has been under FCPA scrutiny since 2012 (no that is not a typo).

Today the DOJ and SEC announced (here and here) an approximate $232 million enforcement action ($84.7 million to the DOJ and $147 million to the SEC) against the company for alleged bribery schemes involving physicians and other healthcare personnel in Angola, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Spain, Turkey, Gabon, Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Niger, Cameroon China, Serbia, Bosnia, and Mexico.

While not specified in any of the resolution documents, the DOJ’s non-prosecution agreement and SEC’s administrative order make generic reference to the Angola and Saudi Arabia conduct involving ‘agents and employees utiliz[ing] the means and instrumentalities of U.S. interstate commerce, including the use of internet-based email accounts hosted by numerous service providers located in the United States.”

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Stryker Joins The FCPA Repeat Offender Club

stryker

The end of September is traditionally an active period for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcement as the SEC’s fiscal year comes to a close.

On the heels of yesterday’s Petrobras enforcement action (see here and here for prior posts), the SEC announced a $7.8 million enforcement action against medical device company Stryker for not having internal accounting controls “sufficient to detect the risk of improper payments in sales of Stryker products in India, China, and Kuwait” and because “Stryker’s India subsidiary failed to maintain complete and accurate books and records.”

In doing so, Stryker joins the list of FCPA repeat offenders (see here). As highlighted in this prior post, in 2013 Stryker resolved a $13.2 million enforcement action based on alleged conduct in Mexico, Poland, Romania, Argentina, and Greece.

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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

Uncle Sam3

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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