Stanley Adams

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Person.png Stanley Adams  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Stanley Adams Roche.png
BornStanislao Formosa
Died2016 (Age 89)
Interests • vitamin
• Hoffmann-LaRoche
Hoffmann-LaRoche whistleblower who was jailed for industrial espionage when found out.

Stanley Adams is a former pharmaceutical company executive and corporate whistleblower. After his employer Hoffmann-LaRoche discovered his name, he was charged with industrial espionage in Switzerland and threatened with 20 years jail. After an international outcry, he only served six months, but by then his wife had committed suicide because of the pressure.

Vitamin, Inc.

Born in Malta as Stanislao Formosa, he changed his name to Stanley George Adams by deed poll on 12 May 1950.[1] Adams was a senior executive with the Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-LaRoche when in 1973 he discovered documents which indicated that the company was involved in price-fixing to artificially inflate the price of vitamins.[2] He passed on the documents to the competition commission of the European Economic Community, aware that Switzerland, while not part of the EEC, had a free trade agreement with it.

13 companies illegally colluded to raise the price of vitamin pills and vitamins added to foodstuffs. The companies involved, the biggest cartel ever discovered and later nicknamed 'Vitamin Inc', met in Switzerland. There, prices were fixed, and output determined. The result was that while the cartel’s production costs remained constant or even fell, the prices it charged increased. The cartel’s members profited enormously from this illegal price-fixing. For example, Roche had revenues of 3.3 billion dollars in the US alone while in the decades the cartel was operating.[3]

The EEC failed to keep his name confidential during its investigation, passing documents containing Adams' name to Hoffman La Roche. Adams was arrested and charged with industrial espionage and theft. Adams' wife was told that he faced a 20-year jail term for industrial espionage. She committed suicide. In the end, Adams served six months in a Swiss prison.[4] When released, he fled to the United Kingdom and, with the assistance of a number of Labour Party MPs, notably John Prescott, later deputy party leader, he attempted to recover compensation from both the Swiss government and the European Union. In 1985 the European Union agreed to pay Adams £200,000, about 40% of his total costs. He documented the saga in Roche vs Adams.[5]

Attempt to murder second wife

In 1985, he was elected rector of St Andrews University (a student-elected post). In 1994, Adams was convicted of soliciting Tony Cox, a former member of a secret British Army unit in Northern Ireland, to murder his second wife, so that he could claim £500,000 in life insurance. Commenting on his actions after being released from prison, Adams expressed regret that his efforts to have his wife killed had ruined his chances for a seat in the House of Lords.[4][6] He served five years of a ten-year prison sentence.[4]

In 1985 Director/Producer John Goldschmidt made the TV-Movie A Song for Europe, also known as A Crime of Honour, inspired by Adams' story. The film was shown on Channel 4 in the UK, on ZDF in Germany, on SRG in Switzerland and on ORF in Austria. The British actor David Suchet and Goldschmidt won Royal Television Society Awards for the film.


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