Exposing corporate wrongdoing
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Orange, formerly known as France Telecom, was a state-owned telecommunications company from its founding in 1889 until it was privatized in 1998. In the decade after privatization, company management embarked on a campaign to reduce labor costs that courts later described as a system of “moral harassment” of staff. Some 22,000 staff quit or were laid off and over 60 killed themselves. In 2019, Didier Lombard, the former CEO, was found guilty and sentenced to prison, while the company was ordered to pay €3.5 million to former employees and their families in compensation.
Orpea is a major operator of care homes and clinics across Europe. Founded by Dr. Jean-Claude Marian in 1989, it has been criticized for mistreatment of residents at a number of retirement homes in France. Two years after Orpea bought up a home in Boissise-le-Roi in 2013, 28 families wrote to the Minister of Health to complain that the quality of care provided to residents had deteriorated because the company did not employ enough staff. Similar allegations were brought against Orpea at homes in Le Mans and Schiltigheim in 2016; in Niort and Échillais in 2017; and in Neuilly-sur-Seine in 2018. In Schiltigheim, Orpea was accused of changing the diapers of the elderly just once a day and changing bandages just once a week.
Penta Investments, a private-equity group in central Europe, invests in banks, frozen foods, health care businesses, real estate and newspapers. Founded in 1994, the fund employed Alojz Lorenc, the last head of the Czechoslovak Secret Police in the Communist era. In December 2020, Jaroslav Haščák, a co-founder of Penta and the second-richest man in Slovakia, was arrested and charged with attempting to illegally obtain a set of classified wire-taps, code-named Gorilla, that were made by the Slovak Intelligence Service (SIS), that allegedly implicated him in a major corruption scandal.
Pfizer, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, was founded in 1849. It has been prosecuted for illegal marketing and misleading advertising for a number of drugs like arthritis drug Bextra (valdecoxib), Centrum multivitamins, bladder drug Detrol (tolterodine), anti-epilepsy drug Neurotonin (gabapentin), statin medication Lipitor (atorvastatin) and kidney transplant drug Rapamune (sirolimus). It paid the U.S. government $2.3 billion in 2009 after pleading guilty to the illegal marketing of Bextra. The company was also sued in Nigeria for conducting drug trials with trovafloxacin, an experimental antibiotic, during a meningitis epidemic in Nigeria in 1996 without getting permission from their parents, dozens of whom died subsequently.