Pfizer Settles Foreign Bribery Charges
SEC says company used bribes to boost sales and obtain regulatory approvals
James O'Toole CNN Money
August 07, 2012NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will pay $60 million to settle charges that it paid millions in bribes to foreign officials, federal authorities announced Tuesday.
Pfizer will pay roughly $45 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle charges that the company, along with fellow pharmaceutical firm Wyeth, which Pfizer acquired a few years ago, violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
The SEC says staff from the companies' subsidiaries paid bribes to foreign government officials to boost sales and obtain regulatory approvals. The violations occurred in Bulgaria, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia and Serbia, the SEC said.
Pfizer also entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the Department of Justice, agreeing to pay a $15 million penalty.
"Corrupt pay-offs to foreign officials in order to secure lucrative contracts creates an inherently uneven marketplace and puts honest companies at a disadvantage," James McJunkin of the FBI's Washington field office said in a statement.
Pfizer noted that there is no allegation that anyone at the company's corporate headquarters knew of the conduct in question, which it voluntarily reported to the government.
"The actions which led to this resolution were disappointing, but the openness and speed with which Pfizer voluntarily disclosed and addressed them reflects our true culture and the real value we place on integrity and meeting commitments," Amy Schulman, executive vice president and general counsel at Pfizer, said in a statement.
The SEC said the violations date as far back as 2001, and that Pfizer initially reported them in 2004.
Shares of Pfizer were down 1.7% in mid-day trading Tuesday.