Alexion settles Turkey, Russia bribery claims for $21 million

Alexion Pharmaceuticals reached a $21 million civil settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission concerning bribes made to officials in Turkey, Russia and numerous other countries.

The company resolved charges that it violated the books, records and internal accounting controls provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Compliance Week reported on Thursday.

Alexion Turkey paid Turkish government officials to improperly influence them to approve patents and provide other favourable regulatory treatment for Soliris, Alexion’s primary drug, between 2010 and 2015, according to Compliance Week, which cited the SEC order. Alexion also bribed Russian officials for similar reasons related to the drug, the website reported.

The company’s internal accounting controls failed to detect or prevent the improper payments, the SEC order said. Solaris is used to treat blood disorder.

“As a result, Alexion was unjustly enriched by over $14 million,” the SEC said.

In reaching the settlement, the commission considered remedial acts taken by Alexion, which included strengthening and expanding its global compliance system.

Turkey ranked 91 of 198 countries in 2019 in terms of perceived public sector corruption, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. The No. 1 ranking was awarded to the least corrupt countries Denmark and New Zealand. Turkey scored 39 out of 100 last year compared with 49 in 2012. The higher the score, the less the perceived corruption in the public sector.

Russia ranked 137 of 198 countries last year with a score of 28 out of 100, a level unchanged from 2012.

Soliris made Alexion $3.95 billion of revenue in 2019, an increase of 11 percent from the previous year. It has been testing the drug this year in trials for possible treatment of the COVID-19 virus.