Eli Lilly pays $29M to settle SEC corruption probe

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co. Inc. said it has agreed to pay $29.4 million to resolve federal allegations of possible corrupt business practices by the company's overseas partners.

The settlement deals with a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation launched in 2003 of four Lilly affiliates in Brazil, China, Poland and Russia. The SEC investigated their business practices between 1994 and 2009 for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars publicly traded companies from bribing officials in other countries to get or retain business.

Lilly did not admit or deny the allegations. Under the terms of the agreement Lilly agreed to have an independent compliance consultant review the company's internal controls.

Federal investigators have reached similar settlements with Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer Inc. and other health care companies in recent years. Industry experts say it's not unusual for foreign sales representatives to give gifts and payments to government officials, though this practice is not permitted by U.S. law.

Eli Lilly & Co Inc. shares rose 33 cents Thursday to $49.24 in afternoon trading.