GlaxoSmithKline Sacks Staff on China Bribery Scandal
GlaxoSmithKline Sacks Staff on China Bribery ScandalReuters

GlaxoSmithKline has allegedly sacked a range of employees as it continues to battle against a mass bribery scandal in China.

According to unnamed sources cited by Reuters, a number of China-based staff have been dismissed as they failed to comply with expenses rules.

China's Ministry of Public Security (PSB) claims that GSK executives routed 3bn yuan (£324m, €375m, $489m) in bribes to doctors through travel agencies and consultancies to illegally boost sales and to raise the price of its medicines in China.

"We routinely monitor and check expenses claims to ensure they adhere to our policies. Since the start of the investigation by the authorities, we have increased this monitoring in China," said a GSK spokesperson in a media statement.

"Where we have found potential issues, we are thoroughly reviewing them and have withheld incentive payments where appropriate."

While GSK did not confirm any dismissals at the time of publication to IBTimes UK but the report says that the number of people sacked accounted for only a small proportion of the company's total 7,000-strong workforce.

A GSK spokesman said: "GSK is committed to operating to the highest standards in every part of our business. As such we routinely monitor and check expenses claims to ensure they adhere to our policies.

"Since the start of the investigation by the authorities, we have increased this monitoring in China.

"Where we have found potential issues, we are thoroughly reviewing them and have withheld incentive payments where appropriate.

"For any impacted staff, base salaries have continued to be paid throughout. We are conducting this process with respect for the employees and they are able to discuss their individual financial circumstances with us. If following investigation we find no issue, the incentive payment will be made."

Chinese officials revealed in July last year that four China-based senior executives at British drugmaker GSK channelled millions of pounds in bribes through travel agencies and consultancies.

The PSB's head of the economic crimes investigation unit Gao Feng added that since 2007, the pharmaceutical giant used over 700 of these companies to enable the illegal transactions to take place.

Meanwhile, Reuben Guttman, one of the world's most prominent whistleblower attorneys, said the GSK scandal is only the "tip of the iceberg" in the pharmaceutical world.

Guttman is a director at Grant & Eisenhofer and has served as counsel in some of the largest recoveries under the False Claims Act and has recovered billions of dollars for the government from fraudulent mortgage assignments and a number of pharmaceutical firms.