GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which was fined 3 billion yuan (about NZ$500 million) in China last year for bribery, is dismissing more than 100 of its employees in China for misconduct. The British company confirmed it had taken disciplinary action against staff whose conduct contravened its values and code of conduct but declined to specify the number involved. The misconduct took place before mid-2013, GSK added in a statement.
The dismissals follow detailed investigations into wrongdoing by employees in the wake of the corruption scandal, which damaged GSK’s reputation and hit its business in a fast-growing emerging market.
GSK has engaged an independent legal firm and external consultancies to review operations in China. A spokesperson said: “Where evidence of misconduct has been found, we take appropriate disciplinary action, including termination of employment.”
The company’s annual report revealed that the number of disciplinary cases against staff in China had jumped to 652 in 2014 from 48 in 2013.
Chinese police first accused GSK of bribery in July 2013, alleging the firm had funnelled money to travel agencies to facilitate bribes to doctors and officials. The Chinese action highlights how regulators in the country are increasingly cracking down on corporate malpractice. GSK was issued with its record fine — exactly the same amount as the alleged bribery — in September 2014.
According to local media reports, a court in the southern city of Changsha also handed suspended jail sentences to Mark Reilly, the former head of GSK in China, and four other GSK executives.