By: Richard Pollock
John Podesta, one of President Obama‘s closest White House advisers, counts among his key financial supporters Hansjorg Wyss, a reclusive Swiss billionaire whose company conducted illegal human experiments that resulted in the deaths of three elderly patients.
Justice Department attorneys negotiated a $23.8 million plea deal in 2011 with Synthes Inc., and Norian Corporation, its wholly owned subsidiary, and sent four of its U.S. executives to prison. The money was paid to the federal government.
Two of the victims died in a California hospital and the third perished in a Texas medical facility. One of the California victims was Ryoichi Kikuchi, 83, who died on the operating table at John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek on Sept. 19, 2009.
He was a prize-winning physicist who analyzed the thermodynamic behavior of liquids and gases and worked at scientific centers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of California at Berkeley, the Max Planck Institute in Germany and the National Bureau of Standards.
The federal judge who heard the case said the company’s “pattern of deception is unparalleled.”
Synthes was a Swiss medical device firm with U.S. corporate offices in West Chester, Pa. Wyss opened the U.S. office in 1974 and was CEO until the company was bought by Johnson & Johnson in 2012 for $21.3 billion.
The Washington Examiner asked a White House spokesman whether the president was aware of Podesta’s relationship with Wyss or of the three deaths when Podesta was invited to join the chief executive’s inner circle. The spokesman declined to respond.
Podesta, who was White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, and Wyss have been financially linked for years. Among the Swiss billionaire’s largest gifts in recent years have been those made to the Center for American Progress.
h/t: Glenn Reynolds