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GSK ‘cracks down’ on China staff

Published on 07/04/14 at 10:33am

GlaxoSmithKline has sacked some of its employees in China and clamped down on expenses claims in the country, according to media reports.

The action follows an ongoing corruption investigation by Chinese authorities in which GSK is accused of using travel agencies to launder £320 million worth of sweeteners to doctors.

The company has around 7,000 staff in China, and local newspaper 21st Century Business Herald reported that 150 people had been fired.

GSK told Bloomberg: “We are determined to ensure our processes are being properly followed and will thoroughly investigate where our monitoring has raised potential issues.” Pharmafile contacted GSK for further comment, but they were not available at time of press.

The imbroglio has already cost GSK money, with its sales in China - which only account for 3% of global revenue – falling 18% last year. And GSK boss Sir Andrew Witty has also been hit in his pocket: receiving around £250,000 less in his bonus package as a result of the scandal.

Sir Andrew has also called the allegations ‘shameful’: the company has admitted that its own investigation unearthed evidence of wrongdoing by a number of sales staff, but maintains they ‘worked outside’ GSK’s control systems.

“We routinely monitor and check expenses claims to ensure they adhere to our policies,” GSK told Reuters. “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.”

Responding to claims last week by a former sales representative that there was a ‘bribery culture’ in China, GSK said: “The behaviour described by this ex-employee is completely unacceptable and we have zero tolerance for unethical conduct of this kind. We believe the vast majority of our employees in China operate to the highest standards and anyone who does not has no place in our company.”

Adam Hill

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