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Greece charges DePuy officials

Five employees of orthopedic device maker DePuy are facing criminal charges in Greece for bribing doctors at government-owned hospitals.

The AP reported that the five allegedly paid €16 million ($21.5 million) in bribes to promote the company’s products.

DePuy is owned by U.S.-based Johnson & Johnson.

Two years ago, Johnson & Johnson paid $70 million to resolve criminal and civil FCPA charges arising from DePuy’s overseas bribery.

J&J’s U.K. subsidiary, DePuy International Limited, separately paid £4.8 to settle civil corruption charges brought by the Serious Fraud Office.

Greek authorities Tuesday said the five officials charged with bribery and money laundering committed the offenses from 1998 to 2006, according to the AP.

In April 2010, a former DePuy executive, Robert John Dougall, pleaded guilty in London to making £4.5 million in corrupt payments to Greek medical professionals within the state-controlled healthcare system. He was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

The names of the five charged Tuesday weren’t released.

Eight doctors at Greek state hospital, most of them orthopedic specialists, have been accused of corruption and money laundering in the case, the AP said.

When Johnson & Johnson resolved the U.S. enforcement action, the DOJ said the company “cooperated extensively with the government and, as a result, has played an important role in identifying improper practices in the life sciences industry.”

Two other medical device makers resolved FCPA charges last year.

U.K.-based Smith & Nephew plc agreed to pay $22.2 million for offenses committed by its U.S. and German subsidiaries. The company admitted bribing government-employed doctors in Greece for more than a decade to win business.

And Indiana-based Biomet Inc. paid nearly $23 million to settle FCPA charges brought by the DOJ and SEC. The company bribed doctors at government hospitals in Argentina, Brazil, and China from 2000 to 2008, U.S. authorities said.

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