Former Siemens Executive Pleads Guilty To Role in $100 Million Foreign Bribery Scheme

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The former Technical Manager of the Major Projects division of Siemens Business Services GmbH & Co. OGH (SBS), a wholly owned subsidiary of Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (Siemens AG), pleaded guilty today to conspiring to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Argentine government officials to secure, implement and enforce a $1 billion contract to create national identity cards.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman of the Southern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office made the announcement.

Eberhard Reichert, 78, of Munich, Germany, was employed by Siemens AG from 1964 until 2001.  Beginning in approximately 1990, Reichert was the Technical Manager of the Major Projects division of SBS.  Reichert pleaded guilty today in the Southern District of New York to one count of conspiring to violate the anti-bribery, internal controls and books and records provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to commit wire fraud.  Reichert was arraigned last December on a three-count indictment filed in December 2011 charging him and seven other individuals.  He will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote of the Southern District of New York, who accepted his plea today.

“Far too often, companies pay bribes as part of their business plan, upsetting what should be a level playing field and harming companies that play by the rules,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.  “In this case, one of the largest public companies in the world paid staggeringly large bribes to officials at the uppermost levels of the government of Argentina to secure a billion-dollar contract.  Eberhard Reichert’s conviction demonstrates the Criminal Division’s commitment to bringing both companies and corrupt individuals to justice, wherever they may reside and regardless of how long they may attempt to avoid arrest.”

“Eberhard Reichert tried to sidestep laws designed to root corruption out of the government contracting process,” said U.S. Attorney Berman.  “As he admitted in Manhattan federal court today, Reichert helped to conceal tens of millions of dollars in bribes that were paid to unfairly secure a lucrative contract from the Argentine government.  Today’s plea should be a warning to others that our office is committed to bringing corrupt criminals to justice, no matter how long they run from the law.”

In 1998, the government of Argentina awarded to a subsidiary of Siemens AG a contract worth approximately $1 billion to create state-of-the-art national identity cards (the Documento Nacional de Identidad or DNI project).  The Argentine government terminated the DNI project in 2001.  In connection with his guilty plea, Reichert admitted that he engaged in a decade-long scheme to pay tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Argentine government officials in connection with the DNI project, which was worth more than $1 billion to Siemens.  Reichert admitted that he and his co-conspirators concealed the illicit payments through various means, including using shell companies associated with intermediaries to disguise and launder the funds.

Reichert also admitted that he used a $27 million contract between a Siemens entity and a company called MFast Consulting AG that purported to be for consulting services to conceal bribes to Argentine officials.

In 2008, Siemens AG, a German entity, pleaded guilty to violating the books and records provisions of the FCPA; Siemens Argentina pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA; and Siemens Bangladesh Limited and Siemens S.A. – Venezuela each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery and books and records provisions of the FCPA.  As part of the plea agreements, the Siemens companies paid a total of $450 million in criminal fines.  The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) also brought a civil case against Siemens AG alleging that it violated the anti-bribery, books and records and internal controls provisions of the FCPA.  In resolving the SEC case, Siemens AG paid $350 million in disgorgement of wrongful profits.  The Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office also resolved similar charges with Siemens AG that resulted in a fine of $800 million.  In August 2009, following these corporate resolutions with U.S. and German authorities, Siemens AG withdrew its claim to the more than $200 million arbitration award.

The FBI’s International Corruption Squad in Washington, D.C. is investigating the case.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Michael Culhane Harper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Niketh Velamoor of the Southern District of New York.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, the SEC, Croatian authorities and the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office also provided significant assistance.

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters.  Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

Los Angeles Dentist Charged in Health Care Fraud Scheme

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Los Angeles, California-based dentist was charged in an indictment unsealed on Monday for his alleged participation in a health care fraud and identity theft scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna of the Central District of California, Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office and Assistant Director in Charge Paul D. Delacourt of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.

Benjamin Rosenberg, D.D.S., 58, of Los Angeles, was charged with six counts of health care fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.  Rosenberg was arrested yesterday morning and made his initial court appearance yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jean Rosenbluth of the Central District of California.

The indictment alleges that Rosenberg billed various insurance companies, including Medicaid-funded Denti-Cal, for dental procedures that were never provided.  Rosenberg allegedly billed the insurance companies by using patients’ identification without their permission.

An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington and Los Angeles Field Offices.  Trial Attorney Emily Culbertson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.

The Fraud Section leads the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, which is part of a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to focus their efforts to prevent and deter fraud and enforce current anti-fraud laws around the country.  The Medicare Fraud Strike Force operates in nine locations nationwide. Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged over 3,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for over $12.5 billion.

Transport Logistics International Inc. Agrees to Pay $2 Million Penalty to Resolve Foreign Bribery Case

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Transport Logistics International Inc. (TLI), a Maryland-based company that provides services for the transportation of nuclear materials to customers in the United States and abroad, agreed to resolve criminal charges in connection with a scheme that involved the bribery of an official at a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation and to pay a $2 million criminal penalty.  Three individuals have been charged for their alleged roles in the bribery scheme.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning of the District of Maryland, Principal Deputy Inspector General April G. Stephenson of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General (DOE-OIG) and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington, D.C. Field Office made the announcement.

TLI entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the Department in connection with a criminal information filed in the District of Maryland charging the company with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  In the DPA, TLI and the Department agreed that, because of the company’s financial inability to pay the penalty calculated under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, the appropriate criminal penalty is $2 million.  As part of the agreement, TLI also committed to cooperate fully with the Department’s ongoing investigation, and to continue to implement a compliance and ethics program designed to prevent and detect violations of the FCPA and other anti-corruption laws throughout its operations.  In reaching the resolution with the Department, TLI received full credit for its substantial cooperation with the Department’s investigation and for engaging in remedial measures, including terminating the employment of all employees engaged in the misconduct.

“Bribery of foreign officials not only distorts markets and undermines democratic institutions; it can also pervert the incentives of those who are in a position to safeguard the public, as it did in this case involving the transportation of nuclear material,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan.  “Today’s resolution, along with the related charges against the corporate executives and the Russian official in this matter, underscore the Department’s continued commitment to holding both companies and individuals accountable for their roles in corruption-related crimes and for breaching the public’s trust.”

“The Department of Energy remains committed to ensuring the integrity of our contractors and subcontractors, as well as providing the nation transparency, accountability, and security when it comes to safe and reliable transport of sensitive materials,” said Principal Deputy Inspector General Stephenson.  “We appreciate the efforts of the FBI, the Justice Department’s FCPA Unit and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in pursuing this matter and will continue to work collaboratively with them to aggressively investigate those who seek to defraud Department programs.”

“Today’s charges reflect the determination and ability of the FBI to investigate and prosecute companies that engage in foreign corrupt business practices, regardless of how sophisticated or far-flung the scheme may be,” said Assistant Director in Charge Vale.  “No entity is above the law and those that try to perpetrate a similar scheme will be pursued by the FBI.”

According to admissions and court documents, beginning in at least 2004 and continuing until at least 2014, TLI conspired with others to corruptly pay more than $1.7 million to offshore bank accounts associated with shell companies, at the direction of, and for the benefit of, Vadim Mikerin, a Russian official at JSC Techsnabexport (TENEX), a subsidiary of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation.  The bribe payments were made to help TLI secure improper business advantages and obtain and retain business with TENEX.   In order to effectuate and conceal the bribe payments, TLI executives and others caused fake invoices to be prepared, purportedly from TENEX to TLI, that described services that were never provided.  TLI then wired payments for those purported services to shell companies in Latvia, Cyprus and Switzerland to further the bribery scheme.

On June 17, 2015, TLI co-president Daren Condrey pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA and commit wire fraud.  On Aug. 31, 2015, Mikerin pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering involving violations of the FCPA, and Mikerin was sentenced to 48 months in prison on Dec. 15, 2015.  On Jan. 12, an 11-count indictment was unsealed against TLI co-president Mark Lambert, which charged Lambert with one count of conspiracy to violate the FCPA and to commit wire fraud, seven counts of violating the FCPA, two counts of wire fraud and one count of international promotion money laundering.  The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The cases against TLI and Lambert are assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the District of Maryland.

The case is being investigated by DOE-OIG and the FBI.  Assistant Chiefs Ephraim Wernick and Christopher J. Cestaro and Trial Attorney Derek J. Ettinger of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorneys David I. Salem and Michael T. Packard of the District of Maryland, are prosecuting the case.

The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant assistance in this matter.  The Department also thanks its law enforcement colleagues in Switzerland, Latvia and Cyprus for providing valuable assistance with the investigation and prosecution of the case.

The Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is responsible for investigating and prosecuting all FCPA matters.  Additional information about the Justice Department’s FCPA enforcement efforts can be found at www.justice.gov/criminal/fraud/fcpa.

Novo Nordisk Agrees to Pay $58 Million for Failure to Comply with FDA-Mandated Risk Program

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Payments Resolve Allegations Highlighted in DOJ Civil Complaint and Recently Unsealed Whistleblower Actions

Pharmaceutical Manufacturer Novo Nordisk Inc. will pay $58.65 million to resolve allegations that the company failed to comply with the FDA-mandated Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for its Type II diabetes medication Victoza, the Justice Department announced today. The resolution includes disgorgement of $12.15 million for alleged violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) from 2010 to 2012 and a payment of $46.5 million for alleged violations of the False Claims Act (FCA) from 2010 to 2014. Novo Nordisk is a subsidiary of Novo Nordisk U.S. Holdings Inc., which is a subsidiary of Novo Nordisk A/S of Denmark. Novo Nordisk’s U.S. headquarters is in Plainsboro, New Jersey.

“Today’s resolution demonstrates the Department of Justice’s continued commitment to ensuring that drug manufacturers comply with the law,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “When a drug manufacturer fails to share accurate risk information with doctors and patients, it deprives physicians of information vital to medical decision-making.”

In a civil complaint filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia asserting claims under the FDCA, the government alleged that, at the time of Victoza’s approval in 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) required a REMS to mitigate the potential risk in humans of a rare form of cancer called Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma (MTC) associated with the drug. The REMS required Novo Nordisk to provide information regarding Victoza’s potential risk of MTC to physicians. A manufacturer that fails to comply with the requirements of the REMS, including requirements to communicate accurate risk information, renders the drug misbranded under the law.

As alleged in the complaint, some Novo Nordisk sales representatives gave information to physicians that created the false or misleading impression that the Victoza REMS-required message was erroneous, irrelevant, or unimportant. The complaint further alleges that Novo Nordisk failed to comply with the REMS by creating the false or misleading impression about the Victoza REMS-required risk message that violated provisions of the FDCA and led some physicians to be unaware of the potential risks when prescribing Victoza.

As alleged in the government’s complaint, after a survey in 2011 showed that half of primary care doctors polled were unaware of the potential risk of MTC associated with the drug, the FDA required a modification to the REMS to increase awareness of the potential risk. Rather than appropriately implementing the modification, the complaint alleges that Novo Nordisk instructed its sales force to provide statements to doctors that obscured the risk information and failed to comply with the REMS modification. Novo Nordisk has agreed to disgorge $12.15 million in profits derived from its unlawful conduct in violation of the FDCA.

“Novo Nordisk’s actions unnecessarily put vulnerable patients at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia. “We are committed to holding companies accountable for violating the integrity of the FDA’s efforts to ensure that doctors and patients have accurate information that allows them to make appropriate decisions about which drugs to use in their care. Working with the FDA and other law enforcement partners, we have sent a strong signal to the drug industry today.”

“Novo Nordisk Inc. sales representatives misled physicians by failing to accurately disclose a potential life threatening side effect of a prescription drug, and needlessly increased risks to patients being treated with this drug,” said Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “The FBI is committed to ensuring that the private industry provides honest and accurate risk information to the public and will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to investigate companies who do not comply with FDA-mandated policies.”

“We need to trust that pharmaceutical companies truthfully represent their products’ potential risks,” said Special Agent in Charge Nick DiGiulio for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “We will continue to work with our partners to ensure federal health care dollars are spent only on drugs that are marketed honestly.”

Novo Nordisk will pay an additional $46.5 million to the federal government and the states to resolve claims under the FCA and state false claims acts. This portion of the settlement resolves allegations that Novo Nordisk caused the submission of false claims from 2010 to 2014 to federal health care programs for Victoza by arming its sales force with messages that could create a false or misleading impression with physicians that the Victoza REMS-required message about the potential risk of MTC associated with Victoza was erroneous, irrelevant, or unimportant and by encouraging the sale to and use of Victoza by adult patients who did not have Type II diabetes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved Victoza as safe and effective for use by adult patients who do not have Type II diabetes.

As a result of today’s FCA settlement, the federal government will receive $43,129,026 and state Medicaid programs will receive $3,320,963. The Medicaid program is funded jointly by the state and federal governments.

The FCA settlement resolves seven lawsuits filed under the whistleblower provision of the federal FCA, which permits private parties to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in a portion of the government’s recovery. The civil lawsuits are captioned as follows: United States, et al. ex rel. Kennedy, v. Novo A/S, et al., No. 13-cv-01529 (D.D.C.), United States, et al. ex rel. Dastous, et al. v. Novo Nordisk, No. 11-cv-01662 (D.D.C), United States, et al., ex rel. Ferrara and Kelling v Novo Nordisk, Inc., et al., No. 1:11-cv-00074 (D.D.C.), United States, et al., ex rel. Myers v. Novo Nordisk, Inc., No. 11-cv-1596 (D.D.C.), United States, et al. ex rel Stepe v. Novo Nordisk, Inc., No. 13-cv-221 (D.D.C.), United States et al. ex rel Doe, et al. v. Novo Nordisk, Inc., et al., No. 1:17-00791 (D.D.C.), and United States ex rel. Smith, et al. v. Novo Nordisk, Inc., Civ. Action No. 16-1605 (D.D.C.). The amount to be recovered by the private parties has not been determined.

The settlements were the result of a coordinated effort among the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Commercial Litigation Branch, with assistance from the FDA’s Office of Chief Counsel. The investigation was conducted by the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, the FBI, HHS-OIG, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Office of Personnel Management, Office of the Inspector General.

For more information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts, visit its website at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. For more information on the Commercial Litigation Branch’s Fraud Section, visit https://www.justice.gov/civil/fraud-section. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, visit https://www.justice.gov/usao-dc.

Owner of Afghanistan Marble Mining Company Indicted for Defrauding U.S. Agency and Defaulting on a $15.8 M Loan

Friday, June 16, 2017

The former owner of a now-defunct marble mining company in Afghanistan was charged in an indictment unsealed today with allegedly defrauding the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a U.S. government agency, and defaulting on a $15.8 million loan.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John F. Sopko and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew W. Vale of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

Azam Doost, aka Adam Doost, Mohammad Azam Doost and Mohammad Azim (Doost), 39, most recently of Union City, California, was charged in an indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with three counts of major fraud against the United States, eight counts of wire fraud, four counts of false statements on loan applications or extensions and eight counts of money laundering. The indictment also has a forfeiture notice.

The indictment alleges that in February 2010, while working at his company, Equity Capital Mining LLC, Doost, along with his brother, obtained a $15.8 million loan from OPIC for the development, maintenance and operation of a marble mine in western Afghanistan. The loan proceeds were paid directly from OPIC to the alleged vendors who provided equipment for the mine, as reported to OPIC by Doost or his consultant. Doost was required to deal with these companies in arms-length transactions or, to the extent any transactions were other than at arms-length, he was required to report any affiliation he had with a vendor. Doost informed OPIC that he had no affiliation with any of the alleged vendors with whom he dealt, when in fact he allegedly had financial relationships with several of them. The indictment alleges that Doost’s business partner was listed with the bank for a number of these alleged vendors and, upon receipt of money from OPIC into the respective accounts, significant amounts of this money were then transferred from that respective account to companies and individuals with whom Doost was associated, or to pay debts Doost owed. Doost’s consultant allegedly received a commission of $444,000 for his alleged consulting services with the first of three disbursements from OPIC, and shortly after $40,000 was transferred from his account to a Doost company in California

The indictment further alleges that when the time came for Equity Capital Mining LLC to repay the loan to OPIC, Doost provided purported reasons to OPIC why it was not able to make those repayments at a time when Doost had control of sufficient funds to make those repayments. Doost and his brother failed to repay any of the principal on the OPIC loan, and only a limited amount of interest, and ultimately defaulted on the loan, the indictment alleges.

An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

SIGAR, with assistance from the FBI, investigated the case. Trial Attorney Daniel Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section is prosecuting the case.