Week in Review, June 15, 2012

Bigger than the secrets of the LOST island, bigger than Sam and Diane, and bigger than the ambiguous fate of Tony Soprano was the question “who shot J.R?”.  If you missed out on that little piece of television history, no need to look for your friendly, local TARDIS to go back and experience it. Dallas is back and re-booted for the 21st Century! We just ask that this version be free of “it was all just a dream” storylines. But enough of this fiction, let’s get down to some fact-based drama and intrigue with this week’s News Week in Review.

Congressmen Henry Waxman and Elijah Cummings are disappointed that Wal-Mart hasn’t cowboyed up and provided them with information related to the company’s FCPA compliance program.  Prompted by the New York Times story alleging the company was paying bribes to government officials in Mexico, the pair has begun their own investigation into the matter. The congressmen have sent a letter to the CEO, blasting him for his refusal to allow company representatives to speak to them regarding the allegations of bribery in Mexico. They also have criticized the CEO for sending representatives from the company’s law firm to brief their staffs on the company’s FCPA compliance program. The lawyers were unable to answer any questions about the bribery allegations.

Despite hundreds of calls coming in on the SFO hotline, the investigation well remains dry. Last November, the Serious Fraud Office launched the confidential hotline to collect reports of potential violations of the UK Bribery Act. Calls have been coming in since the launch, with 350 logged during the first quarter of the year. However, the SFO has yet to launch an investigation. The agency has been dealing with constant budget cuts, limiting its investigative resources.

Rounding out this week’s anti-corruption roundup is a tale of the importance of third-party due diligence. Tom Fox shares the story of a UK man profiled in the Washington Post who led a life filled with fraud. After the man took his operation to Washington DC, he continued to con businesses and people, despite the information that existed about his activities in the UK. Fox sees the story as a cautionary tale of the need for third party due diligence in regard to the FCPA and UK Bribery Act. Both laws expect companies to understand that its third party relationships stretch beyond the sales end of the business.

In light of the pre-emption that will eventually be brought by the Sunshine Act, the Vermont Attorney General’s Office has amended its guide for 2012 disclosures under the state’s prescribed products gift ban and disclosure law.

The False Claims Act recoveries from the industry may be Texas-sized, but one DOJ official says the prevention of fraud should be the focus. Speaking to a group of lawyers, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Stewart Delery, said that government had recovered just over $11 billion under the False Claims Act. The majority of the recoveries represented healthcare fraud cases. Delery said his office would continue to pursue non-monetary, proactive measures to prevent fraud, and he encouraged those in attendance (and their clients) to implement proactive compliance measures to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place.

The weather may always be pleasant and sunny for breakfast on the South Fork terrace, but for the industry, the Sunshine is obscured by clouds of uncertainty. A group of lawmakers have written to CMS to ask that the final rules for the Sunshine Act be delayed until “appropriate congressional committees of jurisdiction have had a chance to review the proposed rule and its impact on patients and the U.S. health system.”  (*cough*…comment period…*cough*) The letter listed several concerns, including the complexities in certain reporting requirements, the reporting of payments for clinical trial, and the burden on CMS brought on by over reporting due to the low reporting threshold. CMS has yet to respond to the letter.

Well folks, time to saddle up and ride off to the weekend. Have a good one everyone!