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Feds Might 'Banish' More Execs for Misconduct, Attorney Says
Date:7/5/2011

NEWARK, N.J., July 5, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Regulators are brandishing a new weapon in their campaign to punish corporate officers they suspect of wrongdoing—in effect, using an extrajudicial procedure to banish them from their jobs. It is unclear whether they intend to routinely take advantage of these disbarment powers—informally dubbed the "death penalty" by some—but at a recent conference on healthcare fraud, officials expressed frustration with persistent wrongdoing in the pharmaceutical industry and strongly reiterated their intent to punish individual executives considered "bad actors," said LeClairRyan shareholder Carlos F. Ortiz, a former federal prosecutor who focuses his practice on white collar defense, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and criminal tax issues.

"CEOs have good reason to be worried," said Ortiz, who is based in the national law firm's Newark, N.J., office. "Banning healthcare executives from doing business with the government—by far their most critical customer—effectively pushes them out of their jobs. This might be a weapon of last resort, but regulators clearly feel that nothing else has worked."

As widely reported in the national media, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently warned New York City-based Forest Laboratories that it could lose all business with the federal government unless its 83-year-old CEO, Howard Solomon, stepped down. The pharmaceutical company had previously reached a $313 million settlement involving various allegations, including that it had distributed an unapproved drug, illegally marketed an antidepressant and misled inspectors from the Food & Drug Administration. In an attempt to force Solomon's ouster in the wake of the settlement, HHS cited a rarely used provision of the Social Security Act that enables it to bar individual corporate officers from government business.

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SOURCE LeClairRyan
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