Stryker settles U.S. civil bribery charges for $13.2 mln


By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Medical device maker StrykerCorp will pay $13.2 million to settle civil charges thecompany bribed doctors and government officials to win businessin five different countries, U.S. regulators said Thursday.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said the companytried to mask $2.2 million in bribes in Argentina, Greece,Mexico, Poland and Romania by booking them as legitimateexpenses for charitable donations, travel costs, consultingservices and commissions.

Stryker is settling the case without admitting or denyingthe charges. Neither a lawyer nor a spokesman for the companywas available for comment.

According to the SEC's charges, filed with the regulator'sadministrative court, the company reaped about $7.5 million inprofits as a result of the bribes.

The payments took place from 2003 to February 2008 and wereused to help secure the company's ability to sell its productsin public hospitals.

In one example, the SEC said Stryker's unit in Poland paidthe director of a hospital and his wife to travel to New YorkCity and Aruba.

Among the perks lavished on the couple were a six-nighthotel stay in New York and tickets to two Broadway shows.

Internal documents confirmed what the SEC described as a"quid pro quo arrangement," noting that a form containing thedirector's schedule stated that the purpose of the visit was to"strengthen [the public doctor's] conviction that Strykerproducts are the best solution for her hospital."

The SEC said that the company retained outside counsel inresponse to the government probe and conducted its own internalinvestigation.

It has since implemented a company-wide, anti-corruptioncompliance program and now demonstrates "a commitment todesigning and funding a meaningful compliance program."

Stryker's shares were down 55 cents, or 0.7 percent, at$73.42 in late morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange

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