On Oct. 1, Kindler was elected to the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Kindler declined to comment.
What did Kindler decline to comment on?
New York-based Pfizer agreed to pay $430 million in criminal fines and civil penalties, and the company’s lawyers assured Loucks and three other prosecutors that Pfizer and its units would stop promoting drugs for unauthorized purposes.
What Loucks, who’s now acting U.S. attorney in Boston, didn’t know until years later was that Pfizer managers were breaking that pledge not to practice so-called off-label marketing even before the ink was dry on their plea.
On the morning of Sept. 2, 2009, another Pfizer unit, Pharmacia & Upjohn, agreed to plead guilty to the same crime. This time, Pfizer executives had been instructing more than 100 salespeople to promote Bextra, a drug approved only for the relief of arthritis and menstrual discomfort, for treatment of acute pains of all kinds.
Oh. A criminal act? And this isn't an "allegation" either - they've pled guilty, so this is now a fact, not an allegation or belief.
And this isn't some little crime either. It's a felony.
But we don't "jail" big corporations for felonious conduct, do we? No, we slap their hands with fines. $1.19 billion dollars (the fine in this case) sounds like a lot of money, but is it?
Pfizer has a Market Cap of $117.64 billion as of this morning, and an enterprise value of $107.59 billion.
To put this in perspective for the "Better Than Average Joe" who has a net worth of a couple hundred thousand bucks this equates to fining him two thousand dollars for robbing a bank - or, since we're talking about selling drugs for unauthorized purposes, dealing crack on the corner.
Of course that "average Joe" wouldn't be fined $2,000. He'd go to prison for 20 years or more. But not Pfizer! A real criminal penalty would end the company.
We all agree that illegal drugs are "dangerous", right? Well, what's peddling drugs for unapproved uses? According to the US Department of Justice:
Across the U.S., pharmaceutical companies have been pleading guilty to criminal charges or paying penalties in civil cases when the U.S. Department of Justice finds that they deceptively marketed drugs for unapproved uses, putting millions of people at risk of chest infections, heart attacks, suicidal impulses or death.
Heh wait - that's exactly the argument we use for locking up drug peddlers on the street corner, right? Hmmm....
See, when you're a "big business", the fines you will be assessed if prosecuted for a felony is just a cost of doing business. Prosecutors won't seek revocation of a firm's corporate charter, and governments won't stop doing business with convicted felon-firms.
Even if it kills people.
And let's remember, Jeff Kindler, who was Pfizer's general counsel beginning in 2002, became their CEO in 2006.
To provide the full context of the lead quote:
Jeff Kindler, who became Pfizer’s general counsel in 2002, supervised the lawyers who made the promises to prosecutors. By 2004, Kindler increased the compliance budget 12-fold. He became chief executive officer in 2006. In Pfizer’s ethics guide, he says stories about misbehaving companies and executives abound.
“Pfizer truly stands apart,” he says. “I am proud of our record.” On Oct. 1, Kindler was elected to the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Kindler declined to comment.
I'm sure that The Fed buying MBS that are "off label" (that is, without the full faith and credit guarantee that Section 14 of The Federal Reserve Act appears to require) will be right up Mr. Kindler's alley.
After all, unlike the law regulating Pfizer, broken twice while Mr. Kindler was allegedly in charge of compliance in one form or another (once as General Counsel, then again as CEO), The Federal Reserve Act doesn't have an "or else."
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