SciClone Pharma settles China-related FCPA case, board to review 'strategic' options

China-focused SciClone Pharmaceuticals ($SCLN) is reviewing a range of "strategic alternatives" to enhance shareholder value fresh off a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA.

"Under the terms of the settlement agreement, SciClone has agreed to pay a total of $12.8 million, including disgorgement, pre-judgment interest and a penalty," the company said in a press release.

"This payment is in line with the charges the company previously recorded and disclosed in its Form 10-Q filed with the SEC on Aug. 10, 2015. As part of the agreement, the company neither admits nor denies it engaged in any wrongdoing. The (U.S.) Department of Justice has also completed its related investigation and has declined to pursue any action."

The settlement apparently freed the U.S.-based firm to announce an intention for the board to "identify, examine and consider a range of strategic alternatives available to SciClone with a view to enhancing stockholder value. SciClone has engaged Lazard as its financial advisor to assist the board in evaluating strategic alternatives."

SciClone CEO Friedhelm Blobel

In October of last year, SciClone CEO and President Friedhelm Blobel chatted in a telephone interview with FiercePharmaAsia about prospects in China where the company sells specialty pharmaceuticals across oncology, infectious diseases and cardiovascular disorders.

He talked about the fast-changing regulatory landscape and about prospects particularly in the oncology space.

"There is scope for accelerated INDs and approvals, time will tell, but I would underline oncology," Blobel said, noting staggering unmet medical need.

In the press release on the settlement and strategic review, Blobel said that sales efforts have been enhanced in China, where GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) famously faced bribery charges and convictions that cost the company $479 million in fines. At the time in late 2014, GSK CEO Andrew Witty said that the UK Serious Fraud Office and the U.S. Department of Justice were also reviewing the case. But no further word has come on any actions by those regulators.

In the case of SciClone, Blobel said "we believe that we have established an industry-leading compliance program, including a commitment to constant improvement, which is a key business asset."

- here's the release