* Pfizer sought evidence of corruption by AG - cables
* Pfizer wanted AG to drop legal action - cables
* Pfizer denies allegations
(Adds Pfizer statement, changes dateline to NEW YORK)
NEW YORK, Dec 10 U.S. drugmaker Pfizer (PFE.N)
hired investigators to find evidence of corruption against
Nigeria's attorney general to convince him to drop legal action
against the company over a drug trial involving children, the
Guardian newspaper reported, citing U.S. diplomatic cables made
public by WikiLeaks.
Nigeria's Kano state sued the world's largest drugmaker in
May 2007 for $2 billion over testing of the meningitis drug
Trovan. State authorities said the tests killed 11 children and
left dozens disabled. [ID:nN29144086]
Pfizer and Kano's state government signed a $75 million
settlement on July 30.
Reuters was not able to verify the content of the leaked
In a statement, Pfizer said it "negotiated the settlement
with the federal government of Nigeria in good faith and its
conduct in reaching that agreement was proper."
"Any notion that the company hired investigators in
connection to the former Attorney General is simply
preposterous," the company said.
The Guardian reported on its website on Thursday that a
memo leaked by WikiLeaks referenced a meeting between Pfizer's
country manager, Enrico Liggeri, and U.S. officials suggesting
the drug company did not want to pay to settle two cases
brought by Nigeria's federal government. The Guardian linked to
the cables on its website, www.guardian.co.uk/.
"According to Liggeri, Pfizer had hired investigators to
uncover corruption links to federal Attorney General Michael
Aondoakaa to expose him and put pressure on him to drop the
federal cases," according to an April 2009 cable from Economic
Counselor Robert Tansey of the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, cited in
the Guardian report. "He said Pfizer's investigators were
passing this information to local media."
Aondoakaa was removed from the post of justice minister in
February this year by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.
"A series of damaging articles detailing Aondoakaa's
'alleged' corruption ties were published in February and
March," the cable said.
"Liggeri contended that Pfizer had much more damaging
information on Aondoakaa and that Aondoakaa's cronies were
pressuring him to drop the suit for fear of further negative
articles," it said.
In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved
Trovan for use by adults only. After reports of liver failure,
its use in the United States was restricted to adult emergency
care. The European Union banned its use in 1999.
(Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Jon Hemming and John