The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has launched a criminal investigation into the commercial practices of GlaxoSmithKline. The announcement made by the SFO on 27 May 2014 is the latest development following the recent arrest of Mark Reilly, the British former chief of GlaxoSmithKline’s operation in China.
Chinese authorities have been investigating GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) since July 2013 amid allegations of bribery relating to payments made to doctors in return for the promotion of the company’s pharmaceutical products. Since the commencement of the investigation by the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, GSK have initiated an examination into their own conduct in a number of other countries including Poland, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. Additionally GSK have been in regular contact with the SFO since the bribery allegations first emerged and recently stated it was ‘committed to operating its business to the highest ethical standards’.
Under the Bribery Act a UK based company can face investigation and prosecution for misconduct arising in another country. If prosecuted under s.7 of the Bribery Act a company may avoid criminal liability if it can prove adequate procedures were in place at the time to prevent the occurrence of bribery. However as the defence has not yet been tested in UK Courts an amount of uncertainty remains as to the extent of the procedures required. A company found guilty of an offence can be subjected to a confiscation order and face unlimited fines.
This latest development is one of many investigations conducted by Chinese authorities into the conduct of international businesses based in the country and highlights the importance for all UK companies to establish and regularly update internal bribery and misconduct procedures.
Business Crime Solicitors at Slater and Gordon have over 30 years experience in this area and are acknowledged independently as leaders in the field. We can assist both individuals and businesses if you:
- Are asked to assist with an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) or other agency investigating alleged corruption
- Think you may be charged with an offence under the Act or any other legislation
- Have been charged with an offence by the SFO or any other agency.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free initial 30 minute consultation for business crime related issues and can assist businesses 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Please call freephone 0800 916 9054 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help.
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