China urges GSK to 'fully cooperate' with bribery probe

A Chinese employee walks into a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) office in Beijing, on July 19, 2013. Chinese police urged British drugs firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to "fully cooperate" with a bribery investigation in a meeting with a visiting executive, accordi
A Chinese employee walks into a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) office in Beijing, on July 19, 2013. Chinese police urged British drugs firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to "fully cooperate" with a bribery investigation in a meeting with a visiting executive, according to a government statement on Monday. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Chinese police urged British drugs firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to "fully cooperate" with a bribery investigation in a meeting with a visiting executive, according to a government statement on Monday.

Chinese authorities said GSK employees bribed government officials, pharmaceutical industry groups, hospitals and doctors to promote sales.

GSK's emerging markets president Abbas Hussain met recently with officials from China's ministry of public security, or police, a ministry statement said, without giving the date of the meeting.

"The GSK head office should face up to its duties and responsibilities, fulfill the commitments in its apology statement and fully cooperate with the investigation by China's police," the statement said.

A police official has previously claimed GSK staff funnelled nearly US$500 million (S$633 million) in suspected bribes through travel agencies and consultants since 2007.

Police have held four top executives of GSK China and prevented another, the firm's British finance director, from leaving the country, though he has not been formally detained.

GSK executives also took kickbacks from travel agencies in return for organising conferences, some of which did not exist, police said.

Media reports say more than 20 people have been detained in the case, including pharmaceutical and travel industry personnel.

Police in Shanghai have detained a British fraud investigator who did work for GSK, Mr Peter Humphrey, Dow Jones Newswires reported on Sunday.

Mr Hussain apologised during the meeting on behalf of GSK, according to the ministry statement.

"The GSK head office fully supports the determination and actions of the Chinese government in combating corruption," he said.

The company said last week that it was "deeply concerned" about allegations of fraud by individuals at the company and third-party agencies, and would cooperate with the investigation.