British orthopedic titan Smith & Nephew (NYSE:SNN) must pay $22.2 million to settle charges of bribing Greek doctors for more than a decade, according to SEC documents.
The complaint alleges that Smith & Nephew subsidiaries used a distributor that created a "slush fund" to bribe doctors working at government hospitals in Greece.
The company and its U.S. arm reached a settlement with the government watchdog agency, closing a years-long investigation in which Smith & Nephew probed its own subsidiaries and voluntarily reported findings of improper conduct to the SEC and the Dept. of Justice, according to a press release.
"Smith & Nephew’s subsidiaries chose a path of corruption rather than fair and honest competition," Kara Brockmeyer, chief of the SEC enforcement division’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit, said in prepared remarks. "The SEC will continue to hold companies liable as we investigate the medical device industry for this type of illegal behavior."
The news hasn’t hurt Smith & Nephew on Wall Street, where shares were up nearly 1% to $51.00 as of about 1:30 p.m. today.
"We have what I believe to be a world-class compliance program, having enhanced it significantly since this investigation began in 2007," CEO Olivier Bohuon said in prepared remarks. "These legacy issues do not reflect Smith & Nephew today. But they underscore that we must remain vigilant every place we do business and let nothing compromise our commitment to integrity."