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SEC targets Teva Pharma in bribery probe

(AP) NEW YORK - Teva Pharmaceutical (TEVA), the largest generic drug company in the world, said it is the target of a federal bribery investigation into its business in Latin America.

Teva said the Securities and Exchange Commission has subpoenaed documents and is looking into its compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for people or companies to make payments to officials of foreign governments in order to get or keep business.

The Israeli company disclosed the inquiry in a form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week. Teva said it was notified of the investigation July 9 and said the probe is in its early stages. Teva added that it is conducting its own voluntary investigation.

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Enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or FCPA, has picked up in recent years. In 2009 and 2010, more than 50 individuals were charged with violating the law and the government collected almost $2 billion in criminal fines, according to the Justice Department. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., for example, is being investigated for FCPA violations after The New York Times reported in late April that its Mexican unit allegedly paid millions of dollars in bribes to speed building permits and gain other favors. The Times also reported that company executives didn't notify authorities even after Wal-Mart found evidence of the scheme during a probe dating to 2005.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said Thursday its second-quarter revenue grew 19 percent to $5 billion. Sales in the U.S. grew nearly 50 percent after Teva began selling generic versions of the psychiatric drugs Seroquel and Zyprexa. Its revenue also got a boost from Teva's acquisition of drugmaker Cephalon in October. Teva's other products include Copaxone, the biggest-selling multiple sclerosis medication in the world.

The company reported more than $18 billion in revenue in 2011.

U.S. shares of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries rose 99 cents, or 2.5 percent, to end Monday trading at $40.50.

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