Welcome to This Week In Compliance: GAN’s weekly news roundup, where we curate the latest stories on compliance and anti-corruption to keep you informed. This week, Purdue Pharma pleads guilty to defrauding U.S. authorities and paying kickbacks. Read the full story and more news below:
Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty to Fraud and Kickback Violations:
Opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma LP pleaded guilty to fraud and violations of U.S. federal anti-kickback laws. The now-bankrupt pharma giant admitted to having defrauded U.S. authorities in its role in the U.S. opioid crisis. The company had reportedly sold opioids to providers who routed the drugs to abusers despite having assured the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that it had taken the appropriate steps to prevent the diversion. Regulators found that the company paid kickbacks to encourage doctors to prescribe their drugs between 2009 and 2017. The pharma giant will pay a criminal fine of USD 3.5BN and USD 2BN in criminal forfeiture.
Big Tech to Face New Antitrust Lawsuits:
Federal authorities in the U.S. are expected to launch new lawsuits against Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company. According to sources familiar with the matter, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is preparing as many as four cases that will be made public by the end of January. Enforcement authorities are investigating whether the tech giants abused their market position, Google in the search engine market, and Facebook in the social media market. Google is already facing an ongoing antitrust lawsuit.
SEC Grants USD 6M in Joint Whistleblower Award:
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced a joint whistleblower award of USD 6M to two individuals that provided assistance and information that led to a number of successful enforcement actions. The whistleblowers participated in interviews, identified relevant individuals, and submitted documents that uncovered a complex scheme of several individuals enriching themselves by ill-gotten gains.
Mandatory Human Rights Due Diligence Initiative Rejected in Switzerland:
After a referendum on Switzerland's Responsible Business Initiative that sought to make businesses liable for human rights violations and set mandatory due diligence requirements was passed by 50.7% nationwide votes, it failed to win support in a majority of Swiss cantons. Besides making Swiss firms liable for human rights violations, the law proposal aimed to prevent environmental damage. The proposal was criticized by the business community which argued that it 'would make Swiss companies liable for the acts of independent suppliers.'
High-Level Lebanese Officials Charged with Corruption:
Lebanese authorities filed corruption charges against several high-ranking public officials, including an ex-army chief, the former head of the army's intelligence, and eight high-ranking security officers. The former public officials stand accused of receiving bribes in exchange for recruitment and for abusing their positions for illicit enrichment. The charges mark a significant milestone in a country where charges against former army commanders are unprecedented.
Saudi Arabia Arrests 226 Individuals for Corruption:
The Saudi-Arabian kingdom arrested 226 individuals, both private and public officials, as part of an ongoing anti-corruption crackdown led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. According to Saudi-Arabia's Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority, 158 investigations revealed that the arrested individuals were implicated in abusing public office, fraud, and bribery. The court highlighted six of the most prominent cases and revealed that some of the involved individuals are believed to have taken at least USD 327M in bribes.