LONDON (Reuters) - Drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline, which was fined a record 3 billion yuan ($483 million) for corruption in China last year and is examining possible staff misconduct elsewhere, faces new allegations of bribery in Romania.
GSK confirmed it was looking into the latest claims of improper payments set out in a whistleblower’s email sent to its top management on Monday. A copy of the email was seen by Reuters.
The company is already probing alleged bribery in Poland, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Iraq.
The latest allegations say GSK paid Romanian doctors hundreds, and in one cases thousands, of euros between 2009 and 2012 for prescribing its medicines, including prostate treatments Avodart and Duodart and Parkinson’s disease drug Requip.
According to the email, the doctors were notionally paid for speaking engagements, but in three out of six cases, including the most highly paid one, they did not give any speech. The other three medics gave only one speech each, despite receiving multiple payments.
GSK also provided doctors with many international trips and made payments to them under the guise of participation in advisory boards, the email said.
The company said it would look “very thoroughly” into the claims, which cover a period before its pledge in December 2013 to stop paying doctors to speak on its behalf or to attend international conferences.
“We do receive letters of this sort from time to time. We welcome and support the opportunity for people to speak up if they have any concerns,” GSK said in a statement. “Sometimes we do find things and we act on it; sometimes our findings do not substantiate the matters being raised.”
The China scandal, which involved alleged bribes totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, hit GSK’s sales in the country, although Chief Executive Andrew Witty, reporting quarterly results on Wednesday, said its Chinese business was stabilizing.
The sender of the Romania email said its contents would be passed on to the U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which are investigating GSK for possible breaches of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
An SEC program provides cash incentives for whistleblowers to report corporate malpractice.
Editing by Jane Barrett and David Holmes
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