Moral Low Ground


Johnson & Johnson Fined $70 Million for Bribing Doctors & Paying Kickbacks to Saddam Hussein Regime

US pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson has been fined $70 million by the Justice Department (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for bribing doctors in Europe and paying kickbacks for contracts under the United Nations Oil for Food Program in Iraq.

According to Agence France-Presse, the DOJ and SEC claim that since 1998 J&J bribed doctors and hospital administrators in Greece, Poland and Romania for contracts and to promote the company’s products. Federal authorities also accuse J&J of paying kickbacks for 19 contracts under the UN Oil for Food Program, under which Saddam Hussein’s regime was permitted to sell oil in exchange for humanitarian supplies. In reality, Hussein pocketed a fortune while his people saw their standard of living plummet. Regardless, J&J subsidiaries Cilag AG International and Janssen Pharmaceutica paid $858,000 in payoffs to Hussein to secure $9 million in contracts under the Oil for Food Program. “The kickbacks were concealed from the United Nations by inflating Janssen and Cilag’s contract prices by 10%,” the charges against J&J stated.

Johnson & Johnson, which US prosecutor Mythili Raman said “cooperated extensively” with their investigation, has agreed to pay $70 million in fines, including $48.6 million to the SEC and $21.4 million to the DOJ, Agence France-Presse reports.

“J&J chose profit margins over compliance with the law by acquiring a private company for the purpose of paying bribes, and using sham contracts, offshore companies, and slush funds to cover its tracks,” SEC enforcement director Robert Khuzami told Agence France-Presse.

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