Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The SEC charged Texas-based medical device company Orthofix International N.V. with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) when a subsidiary paid routine bribes referred to as “chocolates” to Mexican officials in order to obtain lucrative sales contracts with government hospitals. Orthofix agreed to pay $5.2 million to settle the SEC's charges.
The SEC alleges that Orthofix’s Mexican subsidiary Promeca S.A. de C.V. bribed officials at Mexico’s government-owned health care and social services institution Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social (IMSS). The “chocolates” came in the form of cash, laptop computers, televisions, and appliances that were provided directly to Mexican government officials or indirectly through front companies that the officials owned. The bribery scheme lasted for several years and yielded nearly $5 million in illegal profits for the Orthofix subsidiary.
The SEC's proposed settlement is subject to court approval. Orthofix consented to a final judgment ordering it to pay $4,983,644 in disgorgement and more than $242,000 in prejudgment interest. The final judgment would permanently enjoined the company from violating the books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA. Orthofix also agreed to certain undertakings, including monitoring its FCPA compliance program and reporting back to the SEC for a two-year period.
Orthofix also disclosed today in an 8-K filing that it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to pay a $2.22 million penalty in a related action.