Bribes and Spies in the Drug Industry

Pfizer Financial Executive Blows the Whistle

By PETER ROST, M.D.

May 18, 2007

http://www.counterpunch.org/rost05182007.html

A former Pfizer finance executive alleges that Pfizer is a company which hires detectives who pay bribes, use corporate spies, pretexting, and pays off competitor's employees to leak confidential information, and uses other potentially illegal means of obtaining information for the company. And the documents he has provided appear to support his allegations.

The executive is Mr. Ashok S. Idnani, a former Deputy Manager in Pfizer's finance department who spent 28 years working for the company.

Idnani was fired after he informed Pfizer CEO Jeff Kindler of numerous illegal acts and provided documents to Pfizer's Corporate Compliance and Corporate Audit departments in support of his allegations.

In January 2006, a two-member team, Ms. Indrani Franchini, Deputy Compliance Officer, and Ms. Sarah Alper, Compliance Audit Supervisor from Pfizer New York traveled to Mumbai, India, to meet with Idnani.

When they arrived in Mumbai they received written proof that Pfizer India had hired a team of detectives who operated by using bribes, corporate spies, pretexting, and even suggested paying off employees in other companies to leak confidential information which Pfizer desired.

Dinesh Lakhani was one of the persons who had his privacy violated by Pfizer. He was a Parke-Davis shareholder who opposed the Pfizer Warner-Lambert merger.

The Pfizer and Park-Davis merger in India had been approved by a single-judge bench on February 7, 2003. However, four shareholders - Dinesh Lakhani, Janak Mathuradas, Arvind Vyas and Hiren Vyas - appealed against that order and obtained an ad interim stay. The Bombay High Court admitted the appeal by these minority shareholders in May 2003. More here.

This very much angered Pfizer management, and they sent their goons to spy on Dinesh Lakhani and also Janak Mathuradas. Janak Mathurdas is known in India as an activist investor who frequently opposes management, including objecting against fat pay packages. More here.

In this article you'll be able to download and read Pfizer's surveillance reports on these two men and many others.
It is interesting to note that the surveillance reports directly implicate Mr. Kewal Handa, Pfizer India's Managing Director, in this nefarious activity

Hence, these surveillance reports demonstrate that senior Pfizer management was involved in this activity.

It is also clear that Pfizer Corporate Compliance and Corporate Audit appear to have no problem with such clandestine efforts.

After all, if they did, Mr. Handa wouldn't still be the Managing Director of Pfizer India.
Download the full surveillance reports here:

Surveillance strategy to Handa, June 2003
Surveillance/Phone records Dinesh Lakhani April 2003
Surveillance/Phone records Dinesh Lakhani May 2003
Surveillance Janak Mathuradas May 2003
Surveillance/Phone records Pramod Lele, December 2003
Surveillance report S.V. Phene December 2003

According to the June 2003 surveillance strategy, Mr. Handa was requested to approve a plan which included obtaining confidential and personal bank account information for Dinesh Lakhani, the Parke-Davis shareholder who sued Parke-Davis over the terms of Pfizer's acquisition of that company.

The document also lists need for phone records, even bribes are openly discussed.

Additionally, the report makes clear that an office assistant working for Trent Ltd. is available as an in-house spy.
The first set of document have Pfizer's Company Secretary A. Anjeneyan's handwriting and recommendation to Handa (Anjeneyan reported to Handa and has since left the company).

According to the surveillance reports, Pfizer also spied on Shreeharsha Vasant Phene, who at the time was a corporate planning vice president of Trent Ltd, which owns supermarkets and retail stores, and belongs to the TATA group (more here).

Mr. Idnani comments: "Why Pfizer and Handa ordered this surveillance, I cannot fathom. It is possible the Pfizer India people were taking advantage of the situation to settle personal scores or even to harm and blackmail them."

Pramod Lele, one of the targets for Pfizer's investigations, had been the country manager of Warner-Lambert (Parke-Davis) in India, and had started reporting to Pfizer N.Y where the merger had already taken place.

According to Idnani, he had been promised that he would become the Pfizer India managing director of the merged company.

At a meeting in New York he received a shock, when he was suddenly told that Hocine Sidi Said had been designated as the new country manager of the merged Pfizer/Park-Davis organization. More here.

Pramod Lele resigned and took over as the CEO of Hinduja Hospital in 2003 (more here), and later that same year Pfizer's surveillance of him started.

According to the surveillance reports, the investigators working for Pfizer also obtained Mr. Lele's phone records from the Indian cell phone service provider Orange (Orange was later renamed "Hutch").

These phone records have most likely been obtained through "pretexting" a practice in which someone impersonates a person to obtain his private data.

This is a practice which led to the resignation of Hewlett-Packard's chairwoman, Patrica Dunn.

In her case the target was a board member on her own Board of Directors.

Idnani has in his correspondence with Pfizer asked whether any Judge of the Bombay High Court who was hearing the Dinesh Lakhani vs. Parke-Davis. case, was also followed.

He considered this a possibility because he had seen another document, which he no longer has access to, attached to the surveillance reports with a listing of people who were monitored, in which at the top the initials "HCJ 2" was followed vertically by "Lakhani," "Janak," "PL," "Phene."

Pfizer is not likely to tell us.

But one thing is clear.

Pfizer may very well be in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

And even if that were not the case, at a minimum, Pfizer has been exposed as a company going to any length to win the game they're playing, using hired goons to do their shadowy bidding.

Peter Rost, M.D., is a former Vice President of Pfizer. He became well known in 2004 when he emerged as the first drug company executive to speak out in favor of reimportation of drugs. He is the author of "The Whistleblower, Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman." See: http://the-whistleblower-by-peter-rost.blogspot.com/