Risk & Compliance

Novartis CEO Rails at Sarbox

''It's a real headache'' for the chief executive of the Swiss drug giant.
Stephen TaubJuly 12, 2004

The chief executive officer of drug giant Novartis has publicly criticized the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, according to the Associated Press.

Daniel Vasella, the head of the Basel, Switzerland-based company, said during a visit to Singapore that the standards are onerous for any company that does business in the United States. “It’s a real headache from the point of view of the sheer amount [of rules],” he told the AP.

“Sarbanes-Oxley profoundly changed the way we talk, and the amount we’re spending, the amount of time, and of course the millions [of dollars] — it is in the double-digit range — just to implement all of that,” Vasella reportedly added. “It is the nature of the beast that each time we have a scandal, regulation goes up… . I don’t think we should push it further.”

Vasella also defended his dual role as chairman and chief executive of Novartis — a practice that many corporate governance activists oppose because they believe it prevents an independent board from keeping a close eye on top management. “I think that inherently there’s nothing wrong [with one person holding both positions] provided that it fits the company at the stage at which the company finds itself,” he told the wire service.