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Sanofi alerts US authorities over bribery allegations

Concerns raised by anonymous whistleblower

Sanofi logoSanofi has confirmed it is investigating allegations of corruption in the Middle East and East Africa that have been raised by an anonymous whistleblower.

The company also said it has notified the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of its investigation, which was first revealed publicly by the Wall Street Journal. In a statement, Sanofi's global compliance officer Dante Beccaria said the firm "takes these allegations seriously and does not condone wrongdoing by any of our employees."

The allegations are said to relate to improper payments and gifts made to doctors in Kenya and other East African countries between 2007 and 2012. There are also reports of bribery incidents in the Middle East, although as yet the company has not provided detail on those allegations.

Sanofi also said it has hired "an experienced external counsel to conduct a thorough investigation of all these allegations", although it suggested the probe "is expected to take some time given that the allegations date back seven years."

This is not the first time that Sanofi has been forced to start an investigation into alleged corrupt practices, as the company was also name-checked in the bribery scandal in China that resulted in GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) being fined $487m last month. GSK is also investigating possible wrongdoing in the Middle East and Poland and is also facing probes from the DoJ and UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

In August 2013, one of Sanofi's sales offices in China was visited by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), the Chinese government department that led the investigation into GSK, although since then no additional developments have taken place.

Other companies reported to have been under scrutiny for business practices in China have included Roche, Novartis' Alcon unit, AstraZeneca (AZ), Eli Lilly and UCB, as well as several domestic drugmakers including Sanjing Pharmaceutical, Sinopharm and Shanghai Pharmaceutical.

Analysts said that the risk of punitive action relating to improper activities in the Middle East and Africa is likely to be much reduced as the markets are small in value terms.

Article by
Phil Taylor

8th October 2014

From: Regulatory

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