AstraZeneca to pay $5.5M for bribery violations

AstraZeneca will pay $5.52 million to settle a foreign bribery investigation levied against the London-based drugmaker, reported Reuters.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said that members of AstraZeneca's sales and marketing staff gave improper payments to state-employed healthcare officials in China and Russia, according to the report. The improper payments date back as far as 2005.

The SEC claims AstraZeneca's Chinese subsidiary paid healthcare providers for speaking engagements that were sometimes completely fabricated. In 2008, the subsidiary paid local officials to reduce or dismiss potential financial sanctions the company faced, the SEC said.

The SEC also said AstraZeneca falsely recorded the improper payments as bona fide business expenses.

AstraZeneca did not admit to or deny the charges, but cooperated with the investigation. The drugmaker is addressing issues in its compliance program and reassigned or fired most employees involved in the case, according to the report.

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