Five questions answered on the GSK China bribery scandal

The latest developments.

As GlaxoSmithKline continues to face bribery accusations from Chinese authorities over its dealings in the country, we answer five questions on the latest development.

What has GSK been accused of?

The Chinese athorities accused and detained senior executives of GSK over a week ago alleging the company funnelled 3 billion yuan ($489 million) to 700 travel agencies and consultancies over six years to facilitate bribes and increase sales. They say this ultimately pushed up the prices of drugs in China.

GSK said it is fully co-operating with the investigation. They had initially said the company cold find no evidence of corruption internally.

What’s the latest news?

Today the global British drug maker has back tracked and admitted that some of its executives in China had appeared to have broken the law in relation to the bribery scandal.

The company added that it had zero intolerance for any employees who broke the law.

What exactly did the company say?

GSK's head of emerging markets, Abbas Hussain, in a statement said:

"Certain senior executives of GSK China who know our systems well, appear to have acted outside of our processes and controls which breaches Chinese law. We have zero tolerance for any behaviour of this nature.

"I want to make it very clear that we share the desire of the Chinese authorities to root out corruption wherever it exists. We will continue to work together with the MPS and we will take all necessary actions required as this investigation progresses.”

He added: “In addition, savings made as a result of proposed changes to our operational model will be passed on in the form of price reductions, ensuring our medicines are more affordable to Chinese patients."

Has any British nationals been involved in the scandal?

Only one - Peter Humphrey, who runs Hong Kong- based ChinaWhys. News of his detention was reported today.

Although not a GSK employee he is believed to have been a contractor for GSK and is now one of up to 10 individuals detained over the allegations. The others are Chinese.

The reason for his detention is unclear but the foreign office has said they are aware of it and are providing consular assistance to his family.

Have any other drug companies been targeted?

Yes. It has emerged today that AstraZeneca has also been visited by Chinese authorities. They visited on Monday and took a sales representative away for questioning.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson speaking to Reuters news agency said: "We believe that this investigation relates to an individual case and while we have not yet received an update from the Public Security Bureau, we have no reason to believe it's related to any other investigations," the spokeswoman said.

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for Nridigital.com

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Commons Confidential: What happened at Tom Watson's birthday party?

Finances, fair and foul – and why Keir Starmer is doing the time warp.

Keir Starmer’s comrades mutter that a London seat is an albatross around the neck of the ambitious shadow Brexit secretary. He has a decent political CV: he was named after Labour’s first MP, Keir Hardie; he has a working-class background; he was the legal champion of the McLibel Two; he had a stint as director of public prosecutions. The knighthood is trickier, which is presumably why he rarely uses the title.

The consensus is that Labour will seek a leader from the north or the Midlands when Islington’s Jeremy Corbyn jumps or is pushed under a bus. Starmer, a highly rated frontbencher, is phlegmatic as he navigates the treacherous Brexit waters. “I keep hoping we wake up and it’s January 2016,” he told a Westminster gathering, “and we can have another run. Don’t we all?” Perhaps not everybody. Labour Remoaners grumble that Corbyn and particularly John McDonnell sound increasingly Brexitastic.

To Tom Watson’s 50th birthday bash at the Rivoli Ballroom in south London, an intact 1950s barrel-vaulted hall generous with the velvet. Ed Balls choreographed the “Gangnam Style” moves, and the Brockley venue hadn’t welcomed so many politicos since Tony Blair’s final Clause IV rally 22 years ago. Corbyn was uninvited, as the boogying deputy leader put the “party” back into the Labour Party. The thirsty guests slurped the free bar, repaying Watson for 30 years of failing to buy a drink.

One of Westminster’s dining rooms was booked for a “Decent Chaps Lunch” by Labour’s Warley warrior, John Spellar. In another room, the Tory peer David Willetts hosted a Christmas reception on behalf of the National Centre for Universities and Business. In mid-January. That’s either very tardy or very, very early.

The Labour Party’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, is a financial maestro, having cleared the £25m debt that the party inherited from the Blair-Brown era. Now I hear that he has squirrelled away a £6m war chest as insurance against Theresa May gambling on an early election. Wisely, the party isn’t relying on Momentum’s fractious footsloggers.

The word in Strangers’ Bar is that the Welsh MP Stephen Kinnock held his own £200-a-head fundraiser in London. Either the financial future of the Aberavon Labour Party is assured, or he fancies a tilt at the top job.

Dry January helped me recall a Labour frontbencher explaining why he never goes into the Commons chamber after a skinful: “I was sitting alongside a colleague clearly refreshed by a liquid lunch. He intervened and made a perfectly sensible point without slurring. Unfortunately, he stood up 20 minutes later and repeated the same point, word for word.”

Kevin Maguire is the associate editor (politics) of the Daily Mirror

Kevin Maguire is Associate Editor (Politics) on the Daily Mirror and author of our Commons Confidential column on the high politics and low life in Westminster. An award-winning journalist, he is in frequent demand on television and radio and co-authored a book on great parliamentary scandals. He was formerly Chief Reporter on the Guardian and Labour Correspondent on the Daily Telegraph.

This article first appeared in the 19 January 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Trump era