Today, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced settlements with the global pharmaceutical and healthcare company Novartis AG (“Novartis”) for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”). Novartis, headquartered in Switzerland, agreed to pay over $225 million to settle the Department of Justice FCPA charges for bribery in Greece. The SEC sanctioned Novartis approximately $85 million for Greek related bribery. The total sanctions, with interest, are over $300 million.
“The confidential and anonymous Greek whistleblowers who documented these crimes are heroes. They put their reputations and careers at risk to inform law enforcement about widespread bribery schemes in Greek healthcare programs. Even today, their safety is under threat from corrupt officials who stole from the health care system and took bribes,” said whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn, a founding partner in the qui tam whistleblower law firm of Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto.
Kohn, who is the U.S. based attorney for the Greek whistleblowers, said: “The government of Greece must immediately stop retaliatory actions against the people they think are the whistleblowers. Instead the Greek government must publicly hail the whistleblowers as the heroes they are.”
In Greece, the whistleblowers were represented by the law firm of Pavlos K. Sarakis & Associates, who are also issuing a statement today.
“The SEC and DOJ sanctions should serve as a wakeup call throughout Europe and the entire international community. Whistleblowers can confidentially and anonymously report bribery and hold multinational corporations accountable. The time has come for the millionaires and billionaires, who profit from bribery and undermine the rule of law by corrupting democratic institutions to be held fully accountable,” Kohn continued.
“The SEC and DOJ worked effectively with the whistleblowers. This case once again demonstrates the effectiveness of the Dodd-Frank Act and U.S. whistleblower laws in holding corrupt officials and corporations accountable,” Kohn said.
Based on the sanctions issued today, the total breakdown in fines and penalties paid by Novartis for FCPA violations in Greece are as follows:
SEC: $85.667 million
DOJ – $225 million
Total: $310.667 million
SEC press release: SEC Charges Novartis AG with FCPA Violations