Novartis pays to settle illegal shipping allegations
- U.S. trade sanctions currently restrict exports to Iran, Syria and Sudan. Despite knowing about the embargoes, Novartis subsidiary Alcon made illegal shipments, according to a settlement agreement reached with the U.S. Department of Commerce.
- The Swiss company has agreed to pay $16 million to the Department of Commerce and Department of Treasury to settle the allegations.
- According to the Regulatory Focus, a European freight forwarder told Alcon its warehouse in Switzerland was shipping materials to Iran and Sudan without the required licenses.
Export regulations in the USA restrict all transactions with Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. However, according to the United States Department of Commerce, between 2008 and 2012, Alcon Pharmaceuticals sent medical devices and equipment to Iran via other countries, at a value of over $8.1 million. There were also re-exports to Syria around the same time, worth almost $73,000.
Alcon Labs, on the other hand, apparently shipped medical devices and equipment to Iran over 40 times, totaling over $3.6 million in value.
As a result of these, and of other exports to Sudan, Alcon Labs and Alcon Pharmaceuticals will have to pay a civil penalty of more than $16 million to the U.S. government.
The Department of Commerce noted in its order, Alcon Labs was aware of the “long-standing and well-known US embargo against Iran”, especially as the company had always applied for and received previous licenses for exporting goods to Iran.
While companies such as Novo Nordisk are expanding into Iran and making the most of new markets as sanctions begin to lift, Alcon (rather expensively) seems to have taken its eye off the ball here.
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