Articles Posted in bribes

 
 
Johnson & Johnson, GE, Siemens, and Philips are being investigated by the FBI for an alleged kickback scheme that could span over two decades. According to a recent report by Reuters, these companies may have been part of a complex scheme designed to secure medical equipment contracts in Brazil through a series of bribes made to government figures.

While additional companies may also be involved, the four major players in this scheme appear to be Johnson & Johnson, GE, Siemens, and Philips, which are United States based companies worth a combined $600 billion. But, why would these companies target Brazil? When it comes to public healthcare programs, Brazil serves well over 200 million individuals, making it a valuable area to secure for related medical contracts. The alleged scandal is estimated to have been taking place for more than two decades, however Brazil’s recent anti-corruption push has lead to a series of investigations related to similar offenses.

According to the report, the companies involved in the kickback scheme strategically bribed government officials of Brazil to help them secure upcoming contracts, mainly in the medical equipment field. In addition to receiving the Brazilian partnerships fraudulently, several of the companies involved even charged the government of Brazil inflated prices for the supplied medical equipment. At times this inflation was eight times greater than the current market price, and the funds were then used to cover the cost of previous and future bribes. The medical equipment involved in these scandals were mainly magnetic resonance imaging machines and prosthetics.

big-pharma-300x196Jazz Pharma, Alexion, and Lundbeck were the subject of SOJ lawsuits asserting kickbacks and committing general violations of Medicare laws. The United States Department of Justice has decided to agree to a settlement of $122.6 million in total from these three alleged Medicare violators.

The drug companies were accused of offering remuneration in hopes of encouraging patients to purchase their medications. They would pay kickbacks, a form of negotiated bribery, to patients of Medicare and Civilian Health and Medical Program (ChampVA) under the guise of charitable organizations that subsidized the co-pays. This is not an uncommon practice, but it is one many law enforcement programs are attempting to discontinue.

The DOJ states that in this case, the companies violated the Federal False Claims Act. This act is a way of imposing liability onto anyone, be it a group or individual, that has been discovered interfering with government-funded programs such as in this case with Medicare. This is one of the government’s main tools in defending against fraudulent acts.

Russian telecom companyRussia-based Mobile TeleSystems PJSC (MTS), the largest mobile telecommunications company in that country and an issuer of publicly traded securities in the United States, has settled with the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) paying $850 million to resolve charges of paying bribes in Uzbekistan.  A former Uzbek official who is the daughter of the former president of Uzbekistan and the former CEO of Uzdunrobita LLC, another MTS subsidiary, were said to have participated in a bribery and money laundering scheme involving more than $865 million in bribes from MTS, VimpelCom Limited (now VEON) and Telia Company AB (Telia) to the former Uzbek official in order to secure her assistance in entering and maintaining their business operations in Uzbekistan’s telecommunications market.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman of the Southern District of New York, Special Agent in Charge Raymond Villanueva of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. and Chief Don Fort of IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) made the announcement.

Gulnara Karimova, 46, a citizen of Uzbekistan, was charged in an indictment filed in the Southern District of New York on March 7 with one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Karimova is a former Uzbek official who allegedly had influence over the Uzbek governmental body that regulated the telecom industry.  Bekhzod Akhmedov, 44, a citizen of Uzbekistan and the former Uzbek executive, was charged in the same indictment with one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), two counts of violating the FCPA, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Karimova’s and Akhmedov’s case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood of the Southern District of New York.

Foreign-bribes-venezuela-300x194The president of a company based in Miami, as well as one of its former sales representatives, hoped to gain access to more work and receive payment of past due invoices by bribing officials at Venezuela’s state energy company.

The two men involved are Rafael Enrique Pinto Franceschi, referred to as Pinto, and Franz Herman Muller Huber, referred to as Muller. Pinto lives in Miami and is the president of the company in question at the age of 40, while Muller was a former sales representative for that company and is currently living in Weston, Florida at the age of 68.

Pinto and Muller were charged with two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to launder money, and one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Act. Altogether these two were charged in a five-count indictment in the Southern District of Texas on February 21, 2019.

oil-company-bribes-300x200In a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company, TechnipFMC plc, stated that they have set aside $280 million in possible settlement funds involving bribery-related offenses. The payment would be delivered to authorities in the United States as well as Brazil and France.

TechnipFMC plc is a company based in London that is often found engaging in projects involving oil and gas. They were formed through a merger in 2017, including the UK-based FMC Technologies Inc. and French oil-services giant Technip SA. In 2010, Technip SA paid $338 million to resolve its own issue involving FCPA offenses in Nigeria that involved using massive bribes to win contracts worth $6 billion. They then used these bribery-won contracts to build massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities on Bonny Island in Nigeria.

Moving back to the present, this current reserve of settlement funds is related to an investigation involving a number of factors. TechnipFMC states in a summary of their financial statement for the fourth quarter in 2018 that, “We are cooperating with the U.S., Brazilian, and French authorities in their investigations of potential violations of anti-corruption laws relating to historical projects in Brazil, Equatorial Guinea, and Ghana, and Unaoil contracts. We have been informed that these authorities have been coordinating their investigations, which could result in a global resolution.”.

foreign bribesHempel A/S, a coating supplier based in Denmark, has decided to settle allegations of bribery with a payment of $33.4 million to enforcement agencies in Denmark and Germany.

In April of 2017, Hempel A/S self-reported a number of illegal sales practices that were discovered in Germany, as well as other countries in Europe and parts of Asia. A statement involving this situation with Hempel A/S has stated for the record, “The unlawful practices were stopped immediately and the people responsible were replaced. Hempel has completed internal remediation, invested heavily, and established a robust compliance framework.”

Bribery, when it comes to the law, is the act of giving or receiving something of value in exchange of influence that one would not normally have influence over. While in some rare legal situations this may be a possibly acceptable action to take, in most cases bribery is a highly punishable offense in the corporate world. That being said, according to the International Monetary Fund, an estimated $1.5 to $2 trillion changes hands every year when it comes to bribes.

college admissions chargesParents of college-bound students have been accused of being involved in a college admission scheme worth millions, including two prominent actresses, Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. This scheme was set into place in the hopes of helping ensure their children had a better chance of getting into prominent universities by fabricating their credentials and arranging brides for athletic directors and test administrators.

While parents were responsible for paying for these fraudulent actions, the person running the scam was an individual named William Rick Singer. Singer is a California resident who owned and operated Edge College of Career Network LLC, as well as stood as acting CEO of the non-profit charity corporation Key Worldwide Foundation. With these two organizations under his control, he was able to act on the parent’s wishes to improve their child’s chances of entrance into desirable universities while using KWF as a way to move shady funds around as charitable donations. Clients of Singer, including the two well-known actresses, would pay anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million for his services.

“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,”, Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, stated. “They include, for example, CEOs of private and public companies, successful securities and real estate investors, two well-known actresses, a famous fashion designer, and the co-chairman of a global law firm.”

Pharmacy fraudHolly Blakely, a former San Antonio pharmaceutical rep in Texas, plead guilty and confessed her involvement in an $8.8 million healthcare fraud scheme.

Initially, Holly Blakely was charged in a 30-count indictment. This allegedly means that she paid more than $400,000 in bribes and kickbacks to clinicians for prescribing compounded medications. Compound medication is basically personalized medications produced in order to fit an individual’s exact medical needs. In this case, these compound medications, in particular, were designed to ease pain, but the people these were being given to did not require them.

Blakely confessed that she worked with two compounding pharmacies in order to push prescriptions for compound drugs. The pharmacies would then submit claims to health plans such as Tricare. In exchange for her part of the fraud, Blakely was paid $1.15 million.

Insys TherapeuticsA former Insys Therapeutics executive, accused in an opioid bribe scheme, may have once gifted a lap dance to a doctor the company was pressuring to prescribe opioids drugs to patients. The troubling allegations are emerging as part of Insys trial in Boston.

Jurors heard the “lap dance” testimony on the second day of the federal trial in Boston against Insys Therapeutics founder, John Kapoor, and four other former executives. Apparently, Sunrise Lee, was a former exotic dancer with no experience in pharmaceuticals, who was hired to be a regional sales manager.

Holly Brown, a former Insys sales representative, testified that her superiors encouraged her and others of the sale team to focus their attention on a specific doctor who was known for prescribing a high amount of opioids, named Dr. Paul Madison. She says at one party she saw Lee sitting on Madison’s lap and “bouncing around,” with Madison’s hands “inappropriately all over” Lee’s chest. The prosecutors say this was part of an opioid bribe scheme.

Donville Innis a former minister in the government of Barbados has been criminally charged in the United States with laundering bribes he received from a Barbadian insurance company, federal prosecutors said on Monday. Inniss  formerly served as minister of industry in Barbados and as a member of the Caribbean nation’s Parliament. He was arrested on Friday in Florida and was released on bail after appearing in federal court there on Monday.

Mr. Inniss was charged with money laundering and conspiracy in an indictment in Brooklyn federal court.The indictment says that in 2015 and 2016, Inniss engaged in a scheme to take about $36,000 in bribes from high-level executives of an unnamed Barbadian insurance company. In exchange,  it is alleged, Inniss used his position as minister of industry to help the insurer secure two government contracts. It is alleged that concealed the nature of the bribes by receiving them through a dental company and a bank located in Elmont, New York, under the guise of payments for consulting services.

Inniss was  a legal permanent resident of the United States, living in Florida and Barbados at the time of the payments.