Teva ($TEVA) has long encountered fraud allegations, with the company's own internal investigations showing earlier this year that it "likely" violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The drugmaker is facing new assertions from a former employee who says Teva shrugged off her suggestions for improving compliance and axed her job after she cooperated with U.S. officials.
The suit was filed by Keisha Hall, a one-time certified fraud examiner and director of finance for Latin America, one of the places that Teva was targeted for FCPA violations, and where it "had a history of events related to corruption," the litigation claims. That included everything from unauthorized payments to doctors in Chile, bribes to physicians working in regional hospitals and low inventory controls in Mexico.
Hall was tasked with making FCPA forms to track payments and creating other business materials to fill compliance gaps. But according to the suit, Hall's new supervisor rejected her new system, saying she "was not too concerned with the FCPA" because violations would "only result in fines." In 2013, Hall was approached by the SEC and DOJ to act as a witness in an investigation into the company's business practices in the region. Hall cited issues ranging from physician consultant contracts to fraudulent payments to the Mexican government, and how her supervisors upended the compliance system she had tried to put in place.
But last year Hall was fired by Teva for violating its electronic communications policy by sending personal emails from her work laptop and storing personal videos and pictures on the device. Teva also said that Hall instigated conflict, but "alleged no misconduct associated with work," according to the suit.
Hall is asking to get her job back and is seeking damages that include Teva paying her lost wages and covering her legal fees and costs. Teva, for its part, said it will "rigorously defend the allegations made in this complaint" and that Hall was "terminated for violations of company policy," the drugmaker told FiercePharma in an email.
"Her allegations that her termination was the result of retaliation for protected whistle blower activity or for any other improper purpose are entirely false," the company said. It declined to comment further since the case is in litigation.
Meanwhile, Teva continues to deal with ongoing FCPA investigations in Russia, Eastern European countries and Latin America. Back in 2012, the DOJ and SEC subpoenaed the company for information about allegedly unsound business practices. Earlier this year, Teva said it found "certain business practices and transactions" that might not be up to snuff, and that further investigations could reveal additional facts that would "expand the scope or severity" of the violations.
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