Five international pharmaceutical companies, including Roche of Switzerland, have pleaded guilty to price-fixing in a Canadian court and now have 90 days to pay fines totalling C$88.4 million (SFr91.9 million).This content was published on September 23, 1999 - 11:23
Five international pharmaceutical companies, including Roche of Switzerland, have pleaded guilty to price-fixing in a Canadian court and now have 90 days to pay fines totalling C$88.4 million (SFr91.9 million).
Wednesday’s convictions by a Federal Court in Toronto were related to a wider global vitamin price-fixing scheme currently being investigated by various authorities around the world.
Roche, which is based in Basel, admitted that its European executives set prices and budgets periodically between 1990 and earlier this year, along with competitors BASF AG, Rhone Poulenc SA and the two Japanese companies Daiichi Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and Eisai.
The companies admitted to fixing the prices for vitamins A, B2, B5, C, E and Beta Carotin as well as for vitamins used in the food industry.
Roche was hit with the biggest fine of C$50.9 million (SFr52.9 million), based on its sales of about C$382 million (SFr397.2 million) in Canada. The other fines range from C$2 million (SFr2.08 million) to C$19 million (SFr19.8 million).
“The fine has to be sufficient that it hurts to send a message that these kind of economic crimes don’t pay,” said Crown attorney D. Martin Low.
Lawyers for Canada’s Competition Bureau said the total in fines was three times higher than that imposed in similar bureau investigations because of the “degree of responsibility” of the companies involved.
Roche said in a company statement released in Canada after the court ruling that the individuals involved in the scam were no longer with the company.
In May, the United States judicial authorities fined Roche $500 million (SFr770 million) for fixing vitamin prices.
A company spokesman said Thursday, “We are very sorry what happened in the past and we have taken extensive measures to correct the situation.”
The spokesman said management staff were now trained in newly-set up “behaviour in business” courses.
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