Pharmagossipby Jack Friday02/24/2014
Britain’s Serious Fraud Office plans to prosecute or fine some companies for engaging in bribery overseas, and analysts said some cases might involve mainland China, with GlaxoSmithKline and Rolls-Royce as likely targets. "We have a number of cases in mind but need to look at all the facts," a spokesman with the fraud office told the South China Morning Post.
The Bribery Act seeks to punish Britain-linked firms for bribery overseas, and a new policy by the office announced this month could make it easier to deal with such cases efficiently. The timing of the prosecutions and fines would depend on the circumstances of individual cases, the spokesman said.
In a speech in November quoting Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption slogan "Striking tigers as well as flies", Ben Morgan, the joint head of bribery and corruption at the office, said: "We are investigating the types of cases that risk being overlooked as too difficult or too sensitive."Rob Elvin, a Britain-based managing partner of law firm Squire Sanders, said: " We assume this includes GlaxoSmithKline and Rolls-Royce." Beijing is probing GSK, the largest British drug firm, for alleged bribery in mainland China…
Which brings us to the concept of sin. I didn’t grow up Catholic, but if your Dad’s family immigrated from Italy, about half your relatives are Catholic. My same aged cousin delighted in telling me what I was missing by not going to parochial school, and we had endless talks about purgatory, limbo, papal infallibility, confession, transfiguration, and the like in those days long before Vatican II. But the abiding concern for any two little boys was, of course, sin – venial and mortal. My cousin was obsessed with the difference, and every time we got together, he gave me an exposition on his updated research on those differences, as he planned how to keep his sins on the sunny side of the street [an interest we shared].
Analysts said the office’s new deferred prosecution agreement policy would speed up prosecution of corruption cases. From Monday, these agreements for economic crimes would be available to British prosecutors, the office said last week. A deferred prosecution agreement is one between the prosecutor and a company that allows prosecution to be suspended for a period of time, provided the firm meets certain conditions.
The fraud office’s director David Green said such an agreement sought to avoid damaging the company too much, which would hurt employees and shareholders. The new policy was significant as it provided additional tools for prosecutors, said Andrew Dale, a partner at law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. These agreements would potentially enable the fraud office to resolve more investigations more efficiently, said Keith Williamson, head of forensic and dispute services for Asia at Alvarez & Marsal, an international professional services firm. "We may see a [spate] of resolutions, either settlements or prosecutions," he said.
Deferred prosecution agreements would encourage companies to voluntarily report corruption within their ranks to the fraud office, Williamson said. Elvin said: "[These] agreements are most certainly significant. They allow commercial organisations to settle allegations of criminal economic activity without being prosecuted and without any formal admission of guilt. [They] provide a cost-efficient and quick means of addressing financial crime by corporates."However, British authorities were likely to still prosecute the most serious economic crimes, he said.
When I first read that second part, I felt outraged. Protect the company’s reputation? Clean up the court docket? Keep the shareholders and employees from getting hurt? What about the patients? the sick people who are getting gouged or hurt! How in the hell does that help them? And what about the doctors who are given false information? that they’ve passed on? I doubt that any of the actual injured parties would think very much of these deferred prosecution agreements. It’s just more of the venial sin malarkey that my cousin was incorporating into his life planning. But then it occurred to me that maybe they were onto something back in the day with their venial versus mortal distinctions.
However, British authorities were likely to still prosecute the most serious economic crimes, he said.
In Medicine, the term "malpractice" used to cover all medical sins. But recently, criminal prosecutions have become more common. The standards for the differences aren’t totally clear at this point, riding still on a case to case basis. The ones with mens rea [guilty mind] are the clearest as in the usual criminal cases. The confusing ones are where the levels of negligence are on the table. But my point is that the law is beginning to approach the issue my cousin called the difference between mortal and venial sins when it comes to physicians. It seems to me that rather than continue to complain about the penalties for the sins of pharmaceutical companies, we ought the spend our time looking into the situations where those sins are mortal [and committed by a person or persons]. We have plenty of examples to draw on in our deliberations. Maybe we could help them along the road to doing the right thing by defining the domain.