July 01, 2020
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Novartis AG, Novartis Greece, Alcon Pte Ltd resolve criminal cases for $345 million

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Novartis AG, Novartis Hellas S.A.C.I. and Alcon Pte Ltd have agreed to a payment of more than $345 million to resolve violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

According to a U.S. Department of Justice press release, Novartis Hellas S.A.C.I. (Novartis Greece), a subsidiary of Novartis AG, engaged in a scheme to bribe employees of state-owned and state-controlled hospitals and clinics in Greece to increase the sale of Novartis-branded pharmaceutical products. The company specifically paid these employees to travel to international medical congresses as a means to bribe them in exchange for increasing the number of prescriptions they wrote for Lucentis (ranibizumab).

Additionally, between 2009 and 2010, Novartis Greece made improper payments to health care providers in connection with an epidemiological study as a means to increase sales of certain Novartis-branded prescription drugs.

For both schemes, Novartis Greece also conspired with others to cause Novartis AG to mischaracterize and falsely record improper payments in its books, records and accounts.

According to its own admissions, Alcon Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Novartis AG at the time of the misconduct and current subsidiary of Alcon Inc., conspired with others to cause Novartis AG to maintain false books, records and accounts in connection with a scheme to bribe employees of state-owned and state-controlled hospitals and clinics in Vietnam from 2011 through 2014.

The scheme consisted of Alcon employees in Vietnam making corrupt payments through a third-party distributor to employees of state-owned and state-controlled hospitals and clinics in Vietnam to increase sales of IOLs.

Novartis Greece has committed to pay a total criminal monetary penalty of $225 million, and Alcon Pte Ltd has committed to pay a total criminal monetary penalty of approximately $8.9 million. Novartis AG has agreed to pay more than $112 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.