Five employees of orthopedic device maker DePuy are facing criminal charges in Greece for bribing doctors at government-owned hospitals.
Entries in Depuy (10)
Johnson & Johnson will pay a $21.4 million penalty to resolve criminal FCPA charges with the DOJ and $48.6 million in disgorgement and prejudgment interest to settle the SEC’s civil charges.
A judge in London today refused to approve BAE's plea agreement to end its long-running bribery case and insisted on calling witnesses to testify about possible corrupt payments in Africa.
For the second time in recent months, U.K. judges have warned the Serious Fraud Office not to make plea deals in overseas bribery cases, throwing into doubt the agency's whistleblower program and its partnership with the U.S. Justice Department in resolving global corruption cases.
This week a U.K. appeals court affirmed the suspended sentence agreed between the SFO and a former sales executive who helped bribe Greek doctors and then turned whistleblower. But at the same time, the court said the SFO's U.S.-style approach was unconstitutional.
Robert John Dougall, 45, formerly marketing director of DePuy, pleaded guilty in April to making £4.5 million in corrupt payments to Greek medical professionals within the state-controlled healthcare system. DePuy, acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 1999, makes and sells orthopedic devices.
The SFO said Dougall was the first "co-operating defendant" in a major SFO corruption investigation. It had recommended leniency in exchange for his guilty plea and help in the case, as typically happens in U.S. white-collar prosecutions. The SFO asked for a suspended sentence; the trial court instead sent Dougall to prison for a year.
The appeals court reversed the sentence but hammered the SFO. It said "agreements between the prosecution and the defense about the sentences to be imposed in fraud and corruption cases were constitutionally forbidden" and solely under the purview of judges, according to reports.
In March, Britain's second-ranking criminal judge said the $12.7 million fine the SFO agreed with a U.K. division of Innospec Inc. went beyond the SFO's authority. Delaware-based Innospec had reached what it believed was a $40 million global settlement with U.S. prosecutors and the SFO.
At Innospec's hearing, Lord Justice Thomas, the deputy head of criminal justice in the U.K. courts, said: “I have concluded that the director of the SFO had no power to enter into the arrangements made and no such arrangements should be made again.” Although he confirmed the U.K. part of the fine agreed by the SFO, he called the amount "wholly inadequate." See our post here.
The SFO first charged Dougall in November 2009 after a "referral" from the U.S. Justice Department. Two months earlier, DePuy and four other orthopedic device makers -- Biomet, Zimmer, Smith & Nephew and Stryker -- had 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. See our post here.
The U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office said this week that a former DePuy executive pleaded guilty to making £4.5 million in corrupt payments to Greek medical professionals within the state-controlled healthcare system. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison.
Robert John Dougall, 45, was DePuy's marketing director. The company, acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 1999, makes and sells orthodpedic devices. The SFO said from 2002 to 2005, Dougall arranged the payment of commissions to surgeons as an inducement to use DePuy's products. The payments were made through agents and offshore accounts.
The SFO said its investigation began "following a referral by the U.S. Department of Justice in October 2007." Dougall, it said, is the first "co-operating defendant" in a major SFO corruption investigation, which is ongoing.
Dougall was first charged by the SFO in November 2009. 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. See our post here.
A copy of the SFO's April 14, 2010 release can be viewed here.
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.
The Justice Department last week issued its first Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Opinion Procedure Release of the year. The Requestor in Release No. 09-01 is a medical device maker that wants to introduce its product to a foreign government. Unlike its few global competitors, it isn't well known in the target country. To introduce itself, it plans to donate samples to government health centers -- ten devices for ten different centers -- worth $19,000 each or $1.9 million for all 100 units.
The medical centers will select the 100 ultimate recipients of the devices. All candidates will have to be financially needy and generally can't be family members of government officials.
The DOJ said the Requestor's plan won't trigger any FCPA enforcement action. Why not? Because the donated devices won't go to government officials but to needy patients. Bottom line: No foreign official, no FCPA offense.
Sound familiar? It should. The same question came up in FCPA Opinion Procedure Releases No. 97-02 (November 5, 1997) and No. 06-01 (October 16, 2006). We talked about them here. So if the question's been asked and answered twice already, why did this Requestor ask again? Probably because medical device makers have been feeling the heat of the FCPA.
The DOJ and SEC are investigating their overseas sales practices. In 2007, Depuy and four other device makers paid $310 million to settle charges they paid kickbacks to induce U.S. doctors to buy their products. The same year, Johnson & Johnson (which owns Depuy) self-disclosed 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." So the SEC and DOJ want to know whether the companies bribed overseas doctors at government-owned hospitals to use their products.
Biomet Inc., Stryker Corp., Zimmer Holdings Inc., Smith & Nephew plc and Medtronic Inc. disclosed FCPA investigations during 2007; Wright Medical reported a similar investigation in June 2008.
View a copy of Opinion Procedure Release No. 09-01 (August 3, 2009) here.
It's an annual event. Democrats in Congress have re-introduced a bill from last year to regulate the way monitors are selected, paid and held accountable. The Project on Government Oversight has a nice report here. The retitled "Accountability in Deferred Prosecution Act of 2009" can be downloaded here.
Two of the bill's sponsors are from New Jersey, where the big flap about monitors first started. In late 2007, New Jersey's U.S. Attorney Chris Christie used deferred prosecution agreements to settle domestic bribery charges against orthopedic device makers. To monitor their compliance, he selected former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Debra Yang, former New Jersey Attorney General David Samson, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan David N. Kelly, and former counsel to the Federal Trade Commission during the Reagan Administration John Carley.
Sticker shock. The monitors were seen as being close to Christie. On top of that, his ex-boss John Ashcroft's monitorship had a price tag of $28 million to $52 million for 18 months of work. Democratic lawmakers (and plenty of Republicans) were unhappy to learn that federal prosecutors, acting alone, could tap party big shots and friends for such lucrative (part-time) posts. In early 2008, Congress launched investigations into all aspects of the monitors -- their appointment, pay, oversight and reporting responsibilities -- and even whether deferred prosecution agreements make sense in the first place. The hearings ended without any action by the Congress.
Where are they now? The orthopedic device makers completed their deferred prosecution agreements a couple of weeks ago. In their September 2007 settlements, they together paid $310 million to resolve charges that they bribed U.S. doctors to buy their products. After that, the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission began investigating whether the companies also gave kick-backs to overseas doctors employed by government-owned hospitals. Such payments could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Biomet Inc., Stryker Corp., Zimmer Holdings Inc., Smith & Nephew plc and Medtronic Inc. disclosed FCPA investigations during 2007 and Wright Medical reported a similar investigation in June 2008.
Christie, meanwhile, resigned as New Jersey's U.S. Attorney in November 2008 and is running for governor as a Republican. In recent days he's had to defend his anti-corruption image against charges concerning the monitor appointments. The AP's report is here. "At issue," the AP says, "is Christie's acceptance of campaign cash from Herbert Stern, a former monitor for the state's medical and dental school, and his choice of two other monitors with whom he had prior ties: John Ashcroft, the former U.S. attorney general and Christie's old Justice Department boss, and David Kelley, a former U.S. attorney in Manhattan who investigated a stock fraud case involving Christie's younger brother, Todd, but declined to prosecute him." Christie, 46, says he's done nothing wrong.
Don't need 'em, don't want 'em. The always-resourceful Corporate Crime Reporter has a neat story dated April 3, 2009 titled, Guess Which U.S. Attorney Doesn’t Do Corporate Deferred Prosecution Agreements? It's Philadelphia. Linda Dale Hoffa, the office's Criminal Division chief since 1984, said this:
We haven’t done [deferred prosecution agreements] because we think it’s better to make a clear bright line decision that we are prosecuting or not prosecuting. There is either sufficient evidence to prosecute or not to prosecute. A deferred prosecution agreement can be more of a gray area. If the crime is serious enough, and it is warranted, then we will bring a prosecution. It’s not a written policy. But it has been the practice in our office.She also said it's the same with non-prosecution agreements. Either the office makes a decision to prosecute or to decline to prosecute, in which case "we close our file.”
The Securities and Exchange Commission said in October this year it is investigating possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by the leading manufacturers of orthopedic implants. Biomet Inc., Stryker Corp., Zimmer Holdings Inc., Smith & Nephew plc and Medtronic Inc. all made announcements about the SEC's investigation and denied violating any laws. In September this year, four of them plus Depuy Orthopedics (part of Johnson & Johnson) paid $310 million to settle charges they paid kickbacks to induce U.S. doctors to buy their products.
Medtronic wasn't part of the domestic case. But it now confirms that the SEC and the Department of Justice are asking for information about payment practices abroad that might violate the FCPA. Medtronic -- based in Minneapolis -- does business in some 120 countries and employs more than 37,000 people worldwide. The company's latest Form 10-Q disclosed these details about the FCPA investigation:
"On September 25, 2007, the Company received a letter from the SEC requesting information relating to any potential violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in connection with the sale of medical devices in an unspecified number of foreign countries, including Greece, Poland and Germany. The letter notes that the Company is a significant participant in the medical device industry, and seeks any information concerning certain types of payments made directly or indirectly to government-employed doctors. A number of competitors have publicly disclosed receiving similar letters. On November 16, 2007, the Company received a letter from the Department of Justice requesting any information provided to the SEC. The Company intends to cooperate with both requests."
Doctors at government-owned or managed hospitals overseas are "foreign officials" for purposes of the FCPA. That means payments to them intended to obtain or retain business might violate the antibribery provisions. Application of the FCPA to overseas doctors made the headlines in 2002, when the SEC settled civil and administrative proceedings against Syncor International Corp. and the DOJ settled criminal FCPA charges against Syncor's Taiwan subsidiary. Payments to doctors have since resulted in FCPA enforcement actions against DPC (Tianjin) Co. Ltd. -- the Chinese subsidiary of Los Angeles-based Diagnostic Products Corporation -- and Micrus Corporation.
Those cases -- and the current investigation of Medtronic and its peers -- demonstrate the compliance risks involved when doing business with foreign hospitals that are owned or controlled by government authorities. The companies face a dilemma. Often the only way to promote their products is through direct contact with local physicians. Much of that contact is educational and might include, for example, sponsoring the doctors' evaluations of the companies' products and subsidizing the presentation of papers at medical seminars. The payments, however -- unless expressly permitted by the written laws or regulations of the host country -- can violate the FCPA.
The investigations of Medtronic and its peers will lead to better compliance practices by companies dealing with government-linked hospitals overseas. Another result, we suspect, will be that more countries -- with the backing of the global medical industry -- will pass laws and regulations to allow some level of financial support from foreign companies to local doctors for product evaluations and related programs.
Medtronic Inc. trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MDT.
View Medtronic's Form 10-Q (December 4, 2007) Here.
The SEC's just-announced investigation of several orthopedic device makers for possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (reported here) probably originated in February 2007. That's when 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. "
At the same time, Johnson & Johnson said Michael J. Dormer, Worldwide Chairman of its Medical Devices & Diagnostics group, had retired. The company said, "In a letter to Johnson & Johnson, Mr. Dormer cited the internal review of these matters and noted he had 'ultimate responsibility by virtue of my position' for those subsidiaries that were the subject of the disclosure." Dormer started his career with Johnson & Johnson in the 1970s. He later worked for device-maker Depuy Orthopedics for six years until Johnson & Johnson acquired it in 1998.
Johnson & Johnson's self-disclosure about potential FCPA violations would have given the SEC and DOJ a quick start in examining the overseas practices of orthopedic device makers. But before prosecutors turned their attention to the FCPA, they apparently wanted to first resolve the domestic bribery cases against Depuy and its peers -- Biomet, Zimmer, Smith & Nephew and Stryker. The DOJ announced a settlement of the domestic bribery cases on September 27, 2007, and the SEC's investigative letters about potential FCPA violations went out to the companies just two weeks later.
View Johnson & Johnson's February 12, 2007 Press Release Here.