The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Tuesday charged Pfizer Inc., a U.S. pharmaceutical
giant, with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), as
its subsidiaries involved in bribery schemes to win business in
The SEC alleged that employees and agents of Pfizer's subsidiaries in Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Serbia made improper payments to foreign officials to obtain regulatory and formulary approvals, sales, and increased prescriptions for the company's pharmaceutical products.
Pfizer's misconduct dated back to 2001, according to the regulator's complaint.
Moreover, Pfizer created a "bonus program" for Croatian doctors. Once a doctor agreed to use Pfizer products, a percentage of the value purchased by a doctor's institution would be funneled back to the doctor in the form of cash, international travel, or free products.
In addition, the SEC separately filed the same charges against another pharmaceutical company Wyeth LLC that Pfizer acquired a few years ago.
The two companies agreed to pay more than $45 million in total to settle their respective charges. Pfizer also agreed to pay a penalty of $15 million to resolve the parallel investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
"These charges illustrate the pitfalls that exist for companies that fail to appropriately monitor potential risks in their global operations," said Kara Brockmeyer, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit, in a statement.
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