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GSK China has been accused of bribing doctors and officials.Reuters

British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline's China consumer healthcare unit was probed in 2012 by US regulators for possible violations of the anti-bribery laws, Reuters has revealed.

The inquiry was not related to a Chinese criminal investigation into corruption in GSK's pharmaceuticals division that was made public last year, the company said.

The investigation was related to a US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) inquiry into possible violations of the anti-bribery Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).

Reuters citing internal documents of GSK reported that the company was conducting a focused investigation into specific people and suppliers in China in 2012 in connection with a US Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) inquiry into possible violations of the FCPA.

GSK confirmed the 2012 investigation to Reuters, but noted that no "unethical conduct" was uncovered at the Chinese business.

"The preservation notices issued in 2012 relate to allegations around adherence to procurement policies within our Chinese consumer healthcare business," said a GSK spokesman.

"We investigated using resources inside and outside the company and did not find evidence of unethical conduct, but did identify some non-compliance with our procurement procedures and remedial action was taken as a result."

The DOJ and SEC have already named GSK in a wider global investigation into corruption by pharmaceutical companies since 2010. Meanwhile Britain's Serious Fraud Office has launched a formal criminal investigation into its overseas activities.

In addition to the far reaching scandal in China, GSK is facing bribery allegations in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Poland.

The company generated £5.2bn ($8.4bn, €6.5bn) from its global consumer healthcare business in 2013, representing about one-fifth of its global turnover.