Washington, D.C., April 8, 2011
The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Johnson and Johnson (J&J) with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by bribing public doctors in several European countries and paying kickbacks to Iraq to illegally obtain business.
The SEC alleges that since at least 1998, subsidiaries of the New Brunswick, N.J.-based pharmaceutical, consumer product, and medical device company paid bribes to public doctors in Greece who selected J&J surgical implants, public doctors and hospital administrators in Poland who awarded contracts to J&J, and public doctors in Romania to prescribe J&J pharmaceutical products. J&J subsidiaries also paid kickbacks to Iraq to obtain 19 contracts under the United Nations Oil for Food Program.
J&J agreed to settle the SEC’s charges by paying more than $48.6 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest. J&J also agreed to pay a $21.4 million fine to settle parallel criminal charges announced by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) today. A resolution of a related investigation by the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office is anticipated.
“The message in this and the SEC’s other FCPA cases is plain – any competitive advantage gained through corruption is a mirage,” said Robert Khuzami, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “J&J chose profit margins over compliance with the law by acquiring a private company for the purpose of paying bribes, and using sham contracts, off-shore companies, and slush funds to cover its tracks.”
Cheryl J. Scarboro, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit, added, “Bribes to public doctors can have a detrimental effect on the public health care systems that potentially pay more for products procured through greed and corruption.”
According to the SEC’s complaint filed in federal court in the District of Columbia, public doctors and administrators in Greece, Poland, and Romania who ordered or prescribed J&J products were rewarded in a variety of ways, including with cash and inappropriate travel. J&J subsidiaries, employees and agents used slush funds, sham civil contracts with doctors, and off- shore companies in the Isle of Man to carry out the bribery.
Without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations, J&J has consented to the entry of a court order permanently enjoining it from future violations of Sections 30A, 13(b)(2)(A), and 13(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; ordering it to pay $38,227,826 in disgorgement and $10,438,490 in prejudgment interest; and ordering it to comply with certain undertakings regarding its FCPA compliance program. J&J voluntarily disclosed some of the violations by its employees and conducted a thorough internal investigation to determine the scope of the bribery and other violations, including proactive investigations in more than a dozen countries by both its internal auditors and outside counsel. J&J’s internal investigation and its ongoing compliance programs were essential in gathering facts regarding the full extent of J&J’s FCPA violations.
Kelly G. Kilroy and Tracy L. Price of the Enforcement Division’s FCPA Unit and Brent S. Mitchell and Reid A. Muoio conducted the SEC’s investigation. The SEC acknowledges the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, Fraud Section; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Serious Fraud Office in the United Kingdom; and 5th Investigation Department of the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Radom, Poland. The SEC’s investigation is continuing.