Kidney-care giant Fresenius has agreed to pay $231 million to resolve federal criminal allegations that it paid bribes to officials to win business in Angola and Saudi Arabia and willfully failed to maintain records on transactions in those countries and others.
"Fresenius doled out millions of dollars in bribes across the globe to gain a competitive advantage in the medical services industry, profiting to the tune of over $140 million," assistant Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said, citing alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations by the company between 2007 and 2016.
In Angola, the German-based company offered or provided things of value to an Angolan military officer with authority over a state military hospital, as well as to government-employed nephrologists, according to the Justice Department's news release. In Saudi Arabia, Fresenius offered or provided things of value to Saudi health officials and publicly employed physicians. In Morocco, Fresenius paid bribes to a state official to obtain contracts to develop kidney dialysis centers at state-owned military hospitals.
In Spain, the company entered into fictitious consulting agreements with publicly employed physicians who could influence or provide information about public contracts. In Turkey, Fresenius entered into joint ventures with publicly employed doctors in exchange for referrals to its clinics. In a number of West African countries including Senegal, Fresenius paid bribes to public employed health officials and doctors. Those claims were all made by the Justice Department.
As part of the non-prosecution agreement, Fresenius agreed to cooperate with the DOJ's investigation, enhance its compliance program, and retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for at least two years.
In a written statement, Rice Powell, CEO of Fresenius Medical Care, said his company has "taken extensive steps to further a culture of ethical business behavior" and "to strengthen our compliance programs and internal controls. And we will continue to do so in close cooperation with the authorities. Enhancing these programs is an ongoing effort that will also help us to improve our service to our patients, which is our primary mission."
Fresenius Medical Care generated nearly 5.2 billion euros ($5.9 billion) in gross profit last year, according to its year-end report, down from 6 billion euros in 2017, or about $6.9 billion. The company generated 16.5 billion euros in revenue ($18.9 billion) in 2018, compared with 17.8 billion euros in 2017 ($20.3 billion).