China detains at least 30 GlaxoSmithKline staff in probe: report

According to a person close to the matter, at least 30 GlaxoSmithKline employees, including five or six executives, are currently under house arrest in China in relation to an ongoing investigation into the company, The Telegraph reported. The newspaper suggested that one of the executives includes the drugmaker's legal counsel in the country.

On July 11, Chinese officials said that some GlaxoSmithKline executives admitted to corruption in the country after authorities uncovered evidence of bribery and tax law violations. The Ministry of Public Security noted that a probe in Changsha, Shanghai and Zhengzhou found that the company tried to establish new sales channels and increase drug prices in China by directly bribing government officials, pharmaceutical industry associations and foundations, hospitals and doctors.

The newspaper suggested that at least one British national is involved in the investigation, although other sources indicated that no British nationals employed by GlaxoSmithKline have been detained as part of the probe. Kate Alden, a spokeswoman at the British Embassy in Beijing, said "we are aware of an incident in Shanghai...involving a British national," adding, "we are providing consular assistance."

Last month, GlaxoSmithKline indicated that it found no evidence of wrongdoing after concluding a probe into allegations that the company's sales staff in China were involved in widespread bribery of doctors to prescribe drugs, in some cases for unauthorised uses, between 2004 and 2010. The drugmaker said it will cooperate with Chinese authorities on the latest investigation.

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