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Dubious As It Was, The Schering-Plough Enforcement Action Was Notable

SP

[This post is part of a periodic series regarding “old” FCPA enforcement actions]

This recent post discussed how from a compliance take-away standpoint the large, egregious, no reasonable minds could differ there was bribery, enforcement actions are the least important and least instructive.

Rather, the most instructive and thus important enforcement actions tend to be those that take the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in a new direction, involve unique interpretations of law (not subjected to any judicial scrutiny of course) and thus pose new compliance challenges for business organizations. The SEC’s 2004 enforcement action against Schering-Plough, based on a bona-fide charitable contribution, certainly fits this mold.

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GlaxoSmithKline Coughs Up $20 Million In SEC FCPA Enforcement Action Based On China Conduct

GSKChina

In this 2016 preview post, I noted that the end of September was likely to be an active period for FCPA enforcement.

Why? Because the SEC’s fiscal year ends on September 30th that’s why.

In the third SEC FCPA enforcement action of the week, the SEC announced this enforcement action in which GlaxoSmithKline plc (a U.K. company with shares traded on the NYSE) will cough up $20 million to resolve an administrative cease and desist order based on employees and agents of its China-based subsidiary and China-based joint venture providing various things of value to healthcare professionals in China.

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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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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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