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5 of the biggest fines in corporate history

As Goldman Sachs is fined £17.5m, TheJournal.ie looks at the most whopping fines levied on banks and businesses to date.

Goldman Sachs: fined by the UK's FSA
Goldman Sachs: fined by the UK's FSA
Image: Richard Drew/AP/Press Association Images

Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s biggest investment banks, was today fined £17.5 million for failing to notify the UK’s financial regulator (FSA) of a US investigation against it.

The prestigious corporation, whose international arm was once led by former Irish Attorney General Peter Sutherland, settled a fraud case brought against it by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for $550m in July.

Regulators accused the bank of misleading investors in sub-prime mortgage products, just as the housing market began to collapse.

Goldman’s first-quarter profits for 2010 came in at $3.29bn.

The UK regulator fined the bank for failing to keep it abreast of the investigation against it, this is the second-largest fine handed out by the FSA. In June, JP Morgan Chase received a fine of £33m for not properly segregating client money from the firm’s accounts.

5 of the biggest fines in corporate history

Elan – $200m (€157m)

Earlier this year, the Irish pharmaceutical company Elan settled a US Attorney’s Office case against it. The firm had been criticised for how it marketed its anti-epileptic drug, Zonegran, in the US.

Pfizer – $2.3bn (€1.8bn)

In 2009, US drug maker Pfizer made the largest settlement of any pharmaceutical company when it shelled out $1.2bn to settle a case over the illegal promotion of prescription drugs. Pfizer made the mistake of marketing some of its drugs for uses other than those for which the drugs had been originally approved.

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National Irish Bank – £42m (€51m)

In comparison to some EU and US penalties this fine is paltry, but in 2004, National Irish Bank was fined £42m by the director of corporate enforcement for over-charging customers.

Intel $1.45bn (€1.14bn)

The EU fined computer giant Intel a record $1.45bn for anti-competitive tactics. The EU found that Intel had penalised computer makers for doing business with their competitor AMD.

Microsoft $1.3bn (€1.02bn)

It was the EU again, who took Microsoft to court, fining them over $1.4bn in 2008 after Microsoft failed to payout on EU anti-trust rulings against it. The EU originally fined Microsoft €280m and €497m for not releasing key code to rival software makers.

About the author:

Daire Hickey

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