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Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, GE, Philips Being Probed By FBI In Brazilian Corruption Case: Reuters

Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, GE, Philips Being Probed By FBI In Brazilian Corruption Case: Reuters
According to claims made in a Reuters report, allegations of kickback payments related to a scheme of medical equipment sales in Brazil by corporate giants Johnson & Johnson, Siemens, General Electric and Philips is being investigated by the FBI.
The report claims, based on information from two Brazilian investigators, that the suspected corporate giants arranged for illegally channeling payoffs to government officials in Brazil to secure contracts related to public health programs throughout Brazil during the last two decades.
The so called bribery cartel comprises of more than large 20 companies according to Brazilian authorities and prosecutors and the firms were involved bribery and billed large amounts from inflated prices form the government for medical equipment such as magnetic resonance imaging machines and prosthetics. Among them, the four largest of the multinationals have a total market capitalization of almost $600 billion as of Thursday and are the largest foreign companies whose role in corruption is being investigated as a part of a major push by the government to curb down on corruption in decades.
Heavy fines and other punishment under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) could be imposed on the large U.S. and European companies if they are found to have been engaged in the alleged criminal activities in Brazil. Payment of kickbacks or bribes to foreign officials to win business had been made illegal in the United States in 1977 for any American citizens, US companies or foreign firms that are publicly listed in any of the stock exchanges in the country.
Currently, anti corruption authorities in Brazil are focused on the role of foreign firms in corruption there. Evidence of wide spread and deep rooted graft in both state institutions and private-sector companies that look to secure business from the government bodies have been found by Brazilian prosecutors over the past five years.
Business and political leaders across Latin America have been upended by the invasive and effective investigations by prosecutors and federal police in the country which also includes successful inquiry into the so called “Car Wash” corruption incident involving the state-run oil company of Brazil – Petrobras.
Authorities were alerted about other possible schemes by the plea-bargain testimonies obtained from suspects, they said. Those included alleged bribes that were paid by multinationals to obtain public contracts in Brazil.
Investigations into the Brazilian medical equipment corruption scandal is being aided by U.S. authorities from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission, said the Brazilian federal prosecutor Marisa Ferrari, reported Reuters.
For its part in the so called Car Wash scandal, a $3.5 billion fine - which is the largest-ever compliance penalty, was extracted from Brazilian construction conglomerate Odebrecht SA, in a joint effort by the U.S. and Brazilian prosecutors in 2016.
“We are constantly sharing information with the FBI on this (medical equipment) case. They ask for documents and we send them, and they are assisting our investigation in return,” Ferrari said. In addition, Ferrari said, “we’ve received a lot of material from the Department of Justice and from the SEC.”

Christopher J. Mitchell

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