Pfizer's CFO Alan Levin's resignation was announced yesterday, after three days of disclosures of corruption in Pfizer's finance department, revealed by former Pfizer finance executive Mr. Ashok S. Idnani, on the Question Authority with Dr. Peter Rost blog.
Brandweek wrote that "Rost this week has devoted his blog to an astonishing series of posts which allegedly describe how Pfizer execs in India took kickbacks in connection with the sale of a Pfizer building for far less than it was worth; how Pfizer hires private detectives to spy on rival executives and pay bribes, and how Pfizer India kept a "gift" list for certain Indian government officials."
Here is a look at what Pfizer CEO Mr. Jeff Kindler knew about these allegations - and when.
After reading this, perhaps the next question should be:
Will Pfizer CEO Mr. Kindler also resign?
The irony is that Mr. Kindler during a December 18, 2006 employee meeting stated:
"I’d like to see a culture where people feel freer than I think they do today, to be perfectly candid, to be open and frank and express their points of view, ah, without fear of some consequences to them. Ah, I think in different parts of the company that kind of culture exists, but I see a lot of evidence where it doesn’t exist. I get very, very depressed when I get emails, which I sometimes do, from people that said I need to send you this email anonymously, ah, because something bad will happen to me or please don’t tell my boss I told you this and their answer and perfectly reasonable idea, maybe it’s not a good idea, maybe it is not something they want to do, but the notion that somebody would be afraid to express themselves that way is very troubling to me."
November 17, 2005: Pfizer’s CFO Alan Levin, Vice Chairmen Jeff Kindler, Karen Katen and David Schedlarz; and Sylvia Montero, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, received an e-mail from Ashok S. Idnani, Deputy Finance Manager, alleging that Pfizer execs in India took kickbacks in connection with the sale of a Pfizer manufacturing plant for far less than it was worth; and that Pfizer India was “cooking the books.”
December 2, 2005: Ms. Indrani Franchini from Pfizer Corporate Compliance, which at the time reported to Jeff Kindler, and Ms. Sarah Alper, Corporate Audit, which reported to Alan Levin, conducted a two hour conference call with Idnani, requesting documents supporting his allegations. Idnani also claims that Ms. Franchini assured him there would be no retaliation.
January 17, 2006: Pfizer dispatched Ms. Indrani Franchini and Ms. Sarah Alper to Mumbai, India, to meet with Idnani and they questioned him at length about the documents he sent to them.
March 13, 2006: Ms. Franchini sent an e-mail informing Idnani that the investigation was concluded, the matter closed and the details regarding specific steps taken or outcomes would not be provided to him.
August 28, 2006: Idnani’s employment was abruptly terminated, after 28 years of service.
September 12, 2006: Idnani sent e-mail to Jeff Kindler, who was now CEO, Karen Katen, Vice Chairman, David Shedlarz, Vice Chairman, Alan Levin, CFO, and Sylvia Montero, Senior Vice President, Human Resources. He alleged he had been wrongfully terminated in retaliation for reporting illegal acts. Idnani also alleged Pfizer India executives “sold Company's properties at undervalued prices which generated kickbacks.” He also alerted management that Pfizer India “hired detectives to tail Mr. Pramod Lele the ex-Country Manager of Parke Davis.”
October 20, 2006 Idnani wrote to John Hong, Corporate Counsel, International Investigations and Programs, and Indrani Franchini. He stated, “I shall be able to prove my charges of fraud, corruption, kickbacks, unfair accounting . . . on my charges of 'cooking of books' one of the items that was brought to the notice of Ms. Franchini and Ms. Alper was transfer of ad hoc (without basis) amounts/provisions to "make up" profits of divisions/business. Idnani also reiterated that the sale “of Pfizer's Hyderabad Plant [was made] at grossly undervalued price,” and that Pfizer “sent detectives behind a[n] ex-CEO of Pfizer's subsidiary and others.”
December 11, 2006: Idnani wrote to John Hong, Pfizer Corporate Counsel, International Investigations and Programs, copied to Jesma Johnson, and Melanie Trinidad. “If you recall - at our teleconference on November 16, 2006, you questioned me on . . . practices Occult and Voodoo and about his Guru . . . It has come to my knowledge, that recently, the Income-Tax Authorities of the Government of India (equivalent to IRS/CID in U.S.) served notices on several employees working in Finance Division demanding from them a reply and detailed explanation as to why they have given certain amounts in the year 2004, to an individual named "Mr. Shivdasani". . . Now who is "Mr. Shivdasani." You guessed correctly - he is [redacted]'s Guru."
December 13, 2006: Jesma Johnson wrote to Idnani with copy to Melissa Maxwell-Avila. “My investigation in this matter is in regards to what you believe where acts of retaliation against you. Therefore any issues that you feel were not in compliance with policies and procedures should have been reported to corporate compliance.”