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Pfizer’s CFO Alan Levin’s resignation was hastily announced 9:25 PM on Sunday evening in a BusinessWire news release. Mr. Levin, 45, took over as the chief of finance in 2005 as Mr. Shedlarz’s was promoted.
Mr. Levin’s resignation comes 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.”
Pfizer in the press release wrote that “Chief Financial Officer Alan Levin has resigned to pursue career opportunities outside Pfizer.” Clearly, Mr. Levin doesn’t appear to have a new job lined up just yet, which indicates this was not a voluntary separation from Pfizer.
And while it is impossible to know if the latest whistleblower revelations contributed to his exit, the timing should result in some serious questions about what precipitated the decision to get rid of the 45-year old CFO who’d only held the job for two years. At a minimum the timing means it is impossible to avoid that question, which Pfizer must have been well aware of.
Mr. Levin’s “resignation” was announced on a weekend, after three days of sordid proof that Pfizer fired a finance executive who repeatedly warned Pfizer that the company hired detectives who paid bribes, used corporate spies, pretexting, and payid off competitor’s employees to leak confidential information, and used other potentially illegal means of obtaining information for the company.
Both Pfizer’s corporate audit and legal compliance departments were involved in the investigation of this affair, which also included allegations of a dodgy sale of a manufacturing plant at a fraction of its real value, intimations of kickbacks, and a list of bribes to government officials by name.
The documents the whistleblower provided show that high level Pfizer executives in India and the company’s New York headquarters, including Jeff Kindler, had been made aware of the allegations before the whistleblower, who’d been with Pfizer for 28 years, was fired.
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/