SEC & DOJ Settle Bribery Charges Against Smith & Nephew

Author:Mr Robert Plotkin and Kurt Wolfe
Profession:McGuireWoods LLP

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced on Monday a settlement with London-based medical device company Smith & Nephew PLC to resolve charges that the company violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) when its US and German subsidiaries bribed public doctors in Greece. Putting the Smith & Nephew settlement in context, Nathalie Tadena of the Wall Street Journal explains:

The settlement came as US authorities have stepped up enforcement of the [FCPA], which bars US companies from bribing foreign officials. Smith & Nephew and other medical-device companies were asked by the SEC and the Justice Department [DOJ] in late 2007 to look into possible improper payments to government-employed doctors and to voluntarily report any issues.

Indeed, according to the SEC, '[t]he charges stem from the SEC's and DOJ's ongoing proactive global investigation of bribery of publicly-employed physicians by medical devise companies.' This global initiative to crack down on instances of bribery in the medical services industry is, perhaps, typified by the $70 million settlement the SEC and DOJ reached with Johnson & Johnson last April, resolving charges that the company paid bribes to public doctors in Greece and other European countries. The $48 million collected by the SEC in that matter was the largest FCPA settlement the SEC attained in 2011.

Although the SEC alleges that Smith & Nephew...

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