French pharma Sanofi is investigating possible illegal payments in the Middle East and Africa from 2007 to 2012 following allegations from an anonymous whistleblower.
Sanofi said Monday it has self reported the allegations to the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The company said it hired New York law firm Weil Gotshal to investigate the allegations.
“At this stage, it is too early to draw conclusions,” a company spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. “Sanofi takes these allegations seriously.”and expects the probe to take “some time,” given the alleged activity dates back several years.
Last month, a court in China fined UK pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline $490 million following a conviction for bribery.
GSK’s former head of China operations, Mark Reilly, was given a three-year prison sentence that was suspended.
China authorities in July 2013 accused GSK of paying $490 million in bribes to health officials and doctors to boost sales. Prosecutors said GSK had used 700 travel agents to deliver the illegal payments since 2007.
In late 2012, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company resolved FCPA civil charges brought by the SEC for alleged bribes to government officials in Russia, Brazil, China, and Poland.
Lilly agreed to pay $29.4 million without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations.
In the Sanofi probe, the whistleblower alleged in emails that employees of a unit in Kenya bribed medical professionals, the Wall Street Journal said.
“Sanofi paid for influential medical professionals to attend conferences, many of which were abroad, and gave them cash and gifts at its own events to win business, the emails allege.”
Sanofi trades on the NYSE under the symbol SNY.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.