The Director of the SFO has opened a criminal investigation into the commercial practices of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and its subsidiaries following allegations of corruption in China.
GSK, the largest British pharmaceuticals company, was involved in a corruption scandal last year when Chinese officials accused it of operating a bribery network in the country to bribe doctors to use its medicines.
According to reports by the Daily Mail, investigators said the company allegedly used hundreds of middlemen to bribe doctors with money and prostitutes, to convince them to buy GSK products.
While the allegations relate to GlaxoSmithKline staff working overseas, the Serious Fraud Office has jurisdiction over any alleged bribery offence carried out by a British firm.
In a statement, GSK said the company was “committed to operating its business to the highest ethical standards and will continue to cooperate fully with the SFO.”
Mark Reilly, who ran GSK’s Chinese business, was charged earlier this month with bribery, an offence that carries a maximum tariff of life in prison in the China.
Mr Reilly initially left the country as the allegations emerged, but the British former chief of GlaxoSmithKline’s operation in China returned to assist police with bribery investigations. He has now been barred from leaving the country.