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Ex-Johnson & Johnson Exec Charged In U.K.

Britain's Serious Fraud Office charged a former executive of a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary with overseas corruption. Robert John Dougall, 44, an ex-vice president of DePuy International Limited of Leeds, appeared Tuesday in the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court. He's accused of making corrupt payments to medical professionals in the Greek public healthcare system in order to sell orthopaedic products. The conduct allegedly occurred between February 2002 and December 2005.

The summons charged Dougall with conspiracy to corrupt in violation of the Criminal Law Act 1977. He was released on unconditional bail. A copy of the SFO's December 1 announcement is here.

The SFO said it began working on the case in March 2008. In February 2007, Johnson & Johnson said it had "voluntarily disclosed to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that subsidiaries outside the United States are believed to have made improper payments in connection with the sale of medical devices in two small-market countries. " The company said then that Michael J. Dormer, the officer responsible for the overseas medical device business, had accepted responsibility and retired.

In September 2007, DePuy and four other orthopedic device makers -- Biomet, Zimmer, Smith & Nephew and Stryker -- agreed to pay $310 million to settle charges they paid kickbacks to induce U.S. doctors to buy their products. Since the U.S. settlement, the four companies, along with Medtronic Inc. and Wright Medical Group, have disclosed DOJ and SEC Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations. 

The Serious Fraud Office -- which has a new-look website and says it now has 88 ongoing cases -- didn't say if DePuy or others will also face charges.

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