August 3, 2015 / 8:37 AM / 4 years ago

GSK re-hires China government relations exec linked to whistleblower probe

SHANGHAI, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline PLC said on Monday it had re-hired Vivian Shi, a former Chinese government affairs executive at the firm who was the focus of an internal probe into information leaks alleging bribery at the company’s China unit.

GSK was fined $489 million last year after a Chinese police investigation concluded the firm had paid doctors to prescribe its drugs, underlining steep compliance risks for firms in the world’s second largest economy.

Shi was named in the internal investigation carried out on behalf of GSK China into a series of emails alleging bribery by the British firm, and which were sent to Chinese government agencies and senior GSK staff, according to a June 2013 summary of the investigation seen by Reuters.

The investigation did not prove Shi, who had left her job in 2012 and before the bribery investigation came to light, was behind the emails.

GSK declined to comment on specific questions about the case.

“We can confirm we have rehired Vivian,” the firm said in an emailed statement. “We are not going to comment further on an individual employee.”

“Vivian herself is not available for comment,” it added. Shi could not be reached separately for comment.

China is the world’s second largest drug market by sales, where spending is set to hit as much as $185 billion by 2018, according to estimates by IMS Health.

The June 2013 report into the information leaks was compiled by ChinaWhys, a risk management consultancy run by British investigator Peter Humphrey and his American wife Yu Yingzeng, who were arrested in China for illegally obtaining private records of Chinese citizens and selling the information to clients, which included GSK.

The couple were released from prison and deported in June.

GSK apologised last year after it was found guilty of bribing doctors, saying it had “learned from its mistakes” and would “work hard to regain the trust of the Chinese people”. (Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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