The Justice Department is making use of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to investigate corporations accused of bribery outside the borders of the United States.
In a speech delivered to law enforcement officials in Rome, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said over the last eight years the DOJ has collected more than $4.4 billion in penalties through FCPA investigations targeting multinational corporations, while the Securities and Exchange Commission has collected an additional $2.6 billion.
Although FCPA investigations encompass a wide swath of industries beyond healthcare--such as the DOJ’s recent investigation into bribery allegations within FIFA--U.S. officials have increasingly used the authority of the FCPA to fine drugmakers accused of bribing doctors in China. In October, GlaxoSmithKline paid $20 million to resolve an SEC probe, adding to a $25 million payment by Novartis in March. Further, FCPA investigations led to a $14.7 million settlement by Bristol-Myers Squibb last year that prompted the company to restructure its policy on physician speaker fees.
“The message we are seeking to send through these enforcement actions is simple: We expect businesses and organizations--and anyone acting on behalf of these entities--to play by the rules, whether they act overseas or in the United States,” Lynch said, emphasizing the importance of international cooperation in order to keep questionable corporate practices in check.
Earlier this year, the DOJ announced the hiring of 10 new prosecutors to fill a pilot program aimed at getting companies to voluntarily disclose FCPA-related misconduct. Several months later, an international watchdog group criticized the U.S. government and drug manufacturers for exhibiting a “willful degree of blindness” to corruption, both within the U.S. and abroad, pointing to billions of dollars in payments made to physicians.