German Dialysis Maker(Fresenius)Opens FCPA Probe

August 3, 2012, 5:04 PM.German Dialysis Maker Opens FCPA Probe
By C.M. Matthews

German healthcare firm Fresenius Medical Care AG has opened an internal investigation into potential violations of a U.S. anti-bribery law.

The company said in a regulatory filing Wednesday that it began the probe after receiving “communications alleging certain conduct that may violate the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-bribery laws.” Fresenius also said it volun-
tarily notified the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice about the internal review.

The FCPA prohibits bribes by U.S.-listed companies to foreign officials to win business and is jointly enforced by the SEC and the Justice Department.

Spokeswomen for both agencies declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the company.

Fresenius, the world’s largest provider of dialysis products and services, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It reported $3.4 billion in revenue in the second quarter. The company said it had hired outside legal counsel to help with the investigation.

“The company is fully committed to FCPA compliance,” it said in Wednesday’s filing.

Drug companies and medical-device makers have been a recent target of U.S. authorities prosecuting the FCPA. U.S. authorities frequently view publicly employed health care professionals as foreign officials under the statute. Some have complained that this interpretation of the law can make it difficult to do business in Asia and Europe, where much of the health-care industry is state-controlled.

Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $70 million in April 2011 to settle allegations that subsidiaries violated the FCPA by paying bribes to Greek doctors who chose the company’s surgical implants and to doctors in Poland and Romania in exchange for contracts and agreements to prescribe the company’s drugs. A handful of other companies, including Stryker Corp. and Zimmer Holdings Inc., have also disclosed FCPA probes.