Thailand set to ramp up anti-graft laws

Thailand‘s anti-graft commission has proposed a raft of legal changes giving it the power to prosecute foreign officials and coordinate with foreign government’s on asset recovery.FCA - bribes

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) has submitted the proposed changes to the National Commission for Peace and Order (NCPO), the country‘s ruling body.

Amendments also include extending the statute of limitations on corruption to 30 years; several high profile offenders have fled Thailand to avoid criminal proceedings and remain in exile until the statute on the crime has run out. The legal changes will bring Thailand in line with the UN’s anti-bribery and corruption standards.

Although news may have died down in the political situation in Thailand, the country is still under Army control. In terms of anti-corruption measures, having the army in control could have positive ramifications. As mentioned here before, the NCPO has orchestrated payments of lapsed rice subsidies to millions of impoverished farmers, forged ahead with the investigation into mismanagement of the rice pledging scheme by former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and is tackling wide spread corruption in Phuket, one of Thailand’s greatest sources of tourism revenue. Read Financial Crime Asia’s report in more detail.

Now that the NACC is no longer hamstrung by political horse-trading which has dominated Thailand’s legal framework in the past, it may have a good chance of pushing through some serious and effective reforms that will go some way to clearing up corruption in the country.

Source: Bangkok Post


GSK scandal triggers debate on high drug prices in China

The bribery scandal involving British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline’s Chinese subsidiary GlaxoSmithKline (China) Investment (GKSCI) first came to light 11 months ago.

GSK China's office building in Shanghai. (Photo/Xinhua)

GSK China’s office building in Shanghai. (Photo/Xinhua)

The police found that the British drugmaker offered bribes to boost sales and inflated drug prices to make up for the bribery expenses and help the firm earn huge profits.

Among the irregularities cited was the domestic price of Heptodin — a drug used to fight hepatitis — being quoted as seven times higher than what was being charged in some countries.

Heptodin was being sold for 142 yuan (US$22.76) in China, compared with only 18 yuan (US$2.87) in South Korea, less than 26 yuan (US$4.17) in Canada and less than 30 yuan (US$4.8) in the United Kingdom.

The news agency added that this meant that Chinese patients had to pay much more to buy a box of Heptodin and that “the price of the drug sold in China could be seven times higher than in other countries.”

But the price gap was not valid, as this comparison involved comparing the price of a box of Heptodin in China with a tablet overseas.

Although the error was quickly pointed out by the media and other websites, GSK made no further clarifications on the price differences. But the controversy surrounding the case has triggered a hot debate about the prohibitive high prices enjoyed by the original drugs of the multinational pharmaceutical companies.

“Although the basis for calculation in GSK’s case was wrong, it is a fact that the British company has violated the law,” an insider from the Pharmaceutical Industry Association stated, adding that “maybe we could use the case to solve the long-stalled issue of allowing original drugs to set their own prices.”

The original drugs refer to imported drugs that have passed the patent protection period, but still enjoy the unique treatment of setting their own prices so that price differentials between the original drugs can be more than 10 times that of domestic generic drugs.

“There is no such a thing as original drugs in the international community; there are only patent drugs and generic drugs. Patent drugs enjoy high prices and market status for a short period of time, but after that period, there will be generic drugs. Only in China, these multinational companies continue to set high prices after the patent protection period and enjoy higher than national treatment,” Yu Mingde, president of the China Pharmaceutical Enterprises Association, pointed out.

Yu has been dedicated to the scrapping of such treatment for years. Some are also of the view that this is one of the major factors for high drug prices in China.

Source: WantChinaTimes

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Isreal: former PM Olmert faces sentence this week

“The state had recommended a six-year sentence and NIS 1.3 million (some $370,000) in fines for the former prime minister.” Source: The Times of Israel

In April 2014, a court in Tel Aviv found former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert guilty of bribery. Nine other former government officials and businessmen were sentenced with him.

Holyland housing complex, Jerusalem - courtesy of Haaretz

Holyland housing complex, Jerusalem – courtesy of Haaretz

All were involved in the development of the Holyland housing project in Jerusalem, which was built when Olmert was mayor of the city more then ten years ago.

The former PM accepted 560,000 (USD160,000) from developers of the Holyland project.

Here is a full list of defendants and sentences.



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Malaysia: New bribery rules bring collective liability for firms

Newly tabled provisions to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009, would mean thatFCA - KL by night companies can be held responsible if employees commit bribery.

The new rules are similar to those under the UK’s Bribery Act 2010, which holds employers responsible for acts of bribery committed by employees and intermediaries. The legal change would see firms facing financial penalties for allowing bribery to take place. Tracking the actions of every employee in a firm is not an easy task and the chances of a bribe being paid without the knowledge of the wider firm and senior management, for example, are high. So, the MACC will contain one defence for firms.

A firm could defend itself against a potential financial penalty if they can prove they have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. Financial Crime Asia has not found any specific guidance relating to what those adequate procedures are vis a vis the MACC, however there is a raft of information on the same provision under the UKBA, which can be found by searching this blog or via Transparency International and the UK Ministry of Justice web portals.

If any readers can share links to good sources of information on adequate procedures for preventing and detecting bribery and corruption, please do share in the comments. Thank you.

Source – The Borneo Post

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China: Zhou’s House of PEPs Infographic

Think that Frank Underwood from Netflix‘ House of Cards series and his network are ruthless in their relentless pursuit of power? Wait until you read about one of China’s FCA - Zhoupolitico-business families. Sanctions officers might consider placing this infographic on their desktops as a reminder of who is who and who they have done business with.

Meet the Zhous, China’s very own House of PEPs, which is odd given they have thrived in a Communist country which expounds the virtues of equality for all and no citizen being better than the next. The infographic shows the prominent politically exposed persons in the clan, how they are related, and shows the business investments they have made and lists the companies connected to them via investment or other business dealings.

The thirteen members of the Zhou family depicted in this New York Times Infographic appear to have stakes in more pies than they have fingers. Seven of the clan have been detained by Chinese authorities,  the whereabouts of six of them is reported ominously as ‘unknown’. One of the clan lives in California and is presumably, for now at least, safe from prosecution by China. Two more are on the lam; they are not under arrest, as far as we know, but no one knows where they are.

The Zhous at a glance 

Zhou Yongkan, the patriarch of the family sits at the top of the tree. He has held various positions in government and state entreprises. His is under arrest and Chinese authorities have already seized USD14.5bn in assets belonging to Zhou and his associates.

Wang Shuhua, his first wife, is deceased, but their son Zhou Bin took an 80 percent stake in the energy investment company, Zhongxu, in 2009. He is also underarrest.

Jia Xiaoye, his second wife, us under arrest – location unknown.

Zhou Bin’s wife Huang Wan and her father Huang Yusheng are both being detained for questioning in undisclosed locations, while her mother Zhian Minli is in California.

Zhou Yuangqing, Yongkang‘s brother, his sister-in-law Zhou Lingying and nephew are also mentioned on this ominous family tree; while mum and dad are under arrest, the whereabouts of Zhou Feng, the nephew, is unknown.

Source: The New York Times

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Corruption: Does my bung look big in this?

In March, the US Department of Justice has slapped a USD88m fine on Japanese firm Marubeni for their involvement in a seven-year campaign to bribe high ranking FCA - US DOJIndonesian members of parliament and other public officials. The DOJ account of how the bribes were orchestrated sheds some light on the process. One of the most amusing elements of the case reveals how deep-seated bribery and corruption plays out in the meeting rooms of corporations, using specially drafted consultants to manage the deals and how officials react when they feel they are being short-changed.

The first ‘graft’ consultant was offered three per cent of the total deal in commission, for feeding the appropriate hands in parliament and at state-owned companies. The bribe-takers, in this case officials at the national power company, griped that their gifts might not be substantial enough to secure their favour and when word of their unhappiness reached the right ears, his commission was reduced to one per cent and a second ‘graft’ specialist was brought in to seal the deal. This is how bribes are made – no brown envelopes, nothing is under the counter. It is open, documented and built into the budget.

The DOJ used the extra-territorial provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to target the firm. Marubeni pleaded guilty to eight charges – read the full DOJ report here


Repercussions for the firm extend far beyond the dollar fine. Marubeni is subject to investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations, and the presence of the agents alone around the US offices is enough to cause concern for future clients.

Damage to its reputation could have a significant effect on future business, allowing the competition to step in and win contracts based on the fact that they are not on the receiving end of a DOJ penalty and probe.

Last but by no means least, comes the remedial action the firm must take, as dictated by the terms of their plea agreement. This is the real meat for Governance, Risk and Compliance professionals.

Marubeni has agreed to maintain and implement an enhanced global anti-corruption compliance program and to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation. This will be a large cost to the firm. The agreement also highlights the apparent lack of an effective ‘compliance and ethics program’ as a factor in the final plea agreement.

Regrettably for Marubeni, all of its dirty dealings were recorded in emails which detail conversations between consultants and Marubeni, including percentages to be paid in commissions.

Two former executives have pleaded guilty to FCPA breaches and two more face charges.

A consortium of failures

Some of the failings noted in the DOJ final notice.

Two senior executives,, both in sales’ positions, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to breach the FCPA.

Allegations of bribery were laid against two more executives in July 2013; by March 2014, these allegations were not proven.

According to court filings, Marubeni, its employees, and other parties paid bribes to officials in Indonesia for assistance in securing a USD118m contract, known as the Tarahan project. The contract was for Marubeni and its consortium partner to provide power-related services for the citizens of Indonesia.

The bribe-takers included a high-ranking member of the Indonesian Parliament, senior members of Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), the state-owned and state-controlled electricity company.

The two consultants hired in connection with the Taharan project to provide legitimate consulting services were, according to the DOJ, taken on to pay bribes to Indonesian officials.

Does my bung look big in this?

E-mails between employees at the Marubeni subsidiary in Indonesia gave details of the bribery system and concerns or demands of the bribe takers.

Officials from the state power company expressed ‘concern’ about whether the agent FCA - Pocket moneywould provide them with satisfactory ‘rewards’ or maybe her would ‘only give them pocket money and disappear.’ Clearly, the bent state-employees of Indonesia can see when their own warped integrity could be devalued. Comments that the agent has not shown he was ‘willing to spend money’ might even suggest that, radically, he was not prepared to offer enormous bribes.

Either way, he lost the gig. A mail sent by Marubeni employees stated the following: “unfortunately our agent almost did not execute his function at all, so far. In case we don’t take immediate action now now [sic], we don’t have any chance to get this project forever.”

The first graft consultant still got his one per cent commission, even though a second bribe expert was brought in to close the deal, on the remaining two per cent commission.

The report concludes with this comment:

“Marubeni and its co-conspirators were successful in securing the Tarahan project and subsequently made payments to the consultants for the purpose of bribing the Indonesian officials. Marubeni and its co-conspirators paid hundreds of thousands of dollars into the first consultant’s bank account in Maryland to be used to bribe the member of Parliament. The consultant then allegedly transferred the bribe money to a bank account in Indonesia for the benefit of the official.”

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Dying to tell the story

A decade ago, when I started writing about money laundering, organised crime and corruption, my editor told me this was sometimes a dangerous job. Aside from a few scrapes with sub-editors and the occasional less then co-operative government press officer, I have had few misgivings about the subject I write about and have never been in any danger (that I know of…).

I do recall once finding a series of internal memos from a multi-national bank that had been leaked on-line. The file was made up of letters, emails and account ledgers with hand written comments from the institution’s compliance officer, claiming emphatically that certain transactions did not constitute money laundering. I quietly showed file to a colleague, who  added a healthy dose of scepticism to the conversation. He questioned the file’s legitimacy, it could have been posted by a disgruntled employee, and pointed out to me that as the CO in question had just been announced a member of our firm’s advisory board, it might be prudent not to follow it up. To my great shame, I did not pursue it.  Fortunately, several other people did and the CO in question stood down from his post. Unfortunately, I did not save the link to the files so cannot share that with you.

The real heroes of corruption journalism are out there exposing embezzlement, graft and politically exposed persons who abuse their positions whenever they can.  Tetyana Chornovol, the Ukrainian FCA - Tatyana Chornovilinvestigator who was brutally assaulted by members of the ex-Ukrainian president‘s security force, and her peers have done so in Ukraine and their efforts have borne fruit; a corrupt regime was ousted. Chornovol survived the attack and is now the head of the new Ukrainian government’s anti-corruption bureau.

Gone but not forgotten

Here is a list of prominent anti-corruption writers who have felt the might of their opposition.

FCA - CardosoCarlos Cardoso, affectionately referred to as the Patron Saint of Corruption Journos by some, is one such hero. Back in November 2000, Cardoso was gunned down in Mozambique. Cardoso published a corruption news letter which he circulated to 400 subscribers from diplomatic, government and business circles. Six men were put on trial for Cardoso’s murder. Journalists in Mozambique were cautious about reporting sensitive stories since then.


Then we have figures such as Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian reporter with Novaya Gazeta, a paper which criticised the Russian government and questioned the sources FCA - Politkovskayaof wealth owned by rising oligarchs, was shot and killed outside her home in November 2006. Politkovskaya was reporting on the war and atrocities in Chechnya, as well as the sources of ‘new Russian’ wealth.

FCA - LitvinenkoAleksandr Litvinenko was poisoned by polonium-210 in London, almost one month after he accused the Russian government of murdering Politkovskaya. Litvinenko, a former secret service agent who spoke out against a corrupt regime in Russia, was arrested and jailed twice before fleeing to the UK where he was granted political asylum in 2000, and from where he continued to speak and write about corruption.


Further back, we have the woman whose work and sadly her death, gave rise to the asset seizure structure employed by governments and the law globally to freeze and confiscate assets bought with the proceeds of crime. Veronica Guerin spent years pursuing major crime bosses in Ireland to expose the real nature of their money making enterprises. She was shot twice and injured before the bad guys finally killed her on June 26th 1996 as she waited in her car at a traffic light in Dublin. Her murderers came from the major drug traffickers in Dublin who she had doggedly pursued, questioning their lavish lifestyles with no apparent sources of income.

FCA - Guerin

Within a week of her murder, the Oireachtas, the Irish parliament, enacted the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 and the Criminal Assets Bureau Act 1996, which allowed the government to seize assets suspected of being acquired with the proceeds of crime. This legislation was the blueprint for similar legislation in the UK (POCA 2002).

The title of this blog is taken from the Freedom Forum conference Guerin was due to speak at on June 28th 1996.

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Yanukovych’s corrupt excesses, secret files and attacks on activists

When the Ukrainian people descended upon the palatial presidential palace Mezhihiyra in Kiev, they found reams of documents detailing the administration’s corruption; some had been burned. Some files were thrown into a lake by security guards loyal to Yanukovych and with the motive of  protecting their own involvement in the schemes FCA - marble lavvyplayed out by the administration to steal billions from the public coffers. Fortunately, the papers were saved and teams of investigative reporters from the Yanukovychleaks project have pieced together details. Follow them at Yleaks.

Buzzfeed has put around ten per cent of the info into this list.

A disgusting amount was spent on the Mezhihirya Residence, the former state owned residence of Ukrainian ruler’s, of which Yanukovych claimed ownership in 2009; think marble floored toilets, fleets of luxury cars that never left the grounds, enough fresh flowers to put Elton John to shame and Liberace style interiors. Even more was syphoned off public funds via a series of invoices to Italian and Ukrainian design teams for last minute ‘arch-urgent’ design changes, whatever that means.

More alarmingly, are two lists of people which were prepared for the President by one of his security team. Ten members of the controversial Femen group, whose tactic to draw attention to their corrupt government is to gain as much exposure as possible by exposing themselves in public. Despite their critics, these women drew attention to their country by appealing to the lowest common denominator; bare flesh attracts attention.

Another list of ten investigative journalists was produced, which may have been no surprise to those on the list, but frightens those who speak and act against corruption. The bodyguard had even logged and recorded a chillingly brief account of a planned attack on a journalist who must have got too close to the truth. Tetyana Chornovil was attacked hours after publishing an article about a luxury home owned by a government minister. The bodyguard’s final entry for the event reads: “1am – clean.”FCA - Tatyana Chornovil

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Probe reveals hidden rule of business in Turkey: bribery

Bribery has become a critical rule of the game for many businesspeople carrying out large-scale projects in Turkey, as recently leaked telephone recordings have raised the specter of widespread corruption with top government officials involved in business FCA - Turkeydeals and tenders, observers assert.

The numerous audio recordings leaked since Dec. 17, when a major graft scandal involving prominent public figures close to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan came to light, reveals that businessmen have paid millions of dollars in bribes promised to government officials in return for favors in public tenders.

Voice recordings regarding Turkuaz Media Group, obtained through legal wiretaps and shared by Twitter user Haramzadeler earlier in February, revealed that the government allegedly collected millions of dollars from businessmen, promising favors in a big government tender to buy the media group.

Cengiz Holding owner Mehmet Cengiz, Kolin İnşaat owner Celal Koloğlu, Limak Holding owner Nihat Özdemir, IC Holding owner İbrahim Çeçen and one unknown businessperson allegedly contributed a total of $100 million each to the pool to buy the media group. Other businesspeople contributed smaller amounts, including Adnan Çebi with $30 million and Hayrettin Özaltın’s sum of $20 million. Çeçen is reportedly willing to give an additional $50 million if he is allowed a favorable place in the third Bosporus Bridge tender. According to the voice recordings, it is unknown whether Muzaffer Nasıroğlu and Abdullah Tivnikli contributed to the pool.

Similarly, the return of a valuable piece of land in the Şişli district of İstanbul to a Bulgarian foundation in 2012 has raised bribery allegations, as it involved a development project by the Taş Yapı Construction Company, whose owner stands accused in the corruption scandal that was exposed in December of last year.

It appears that Emrullah Turanlı, the owner of Taş Yapı, had plans for a project on the Şişli land, including the construction of a shopping mall, residences and a hotel, and he needed approval to carry out a project in a special area. A bribery ring thus made efforts to profit from the project by changing the zoning plan.

The alleged leader of the bribery ring, Hüseyin Avni Sipahi, ensured that the land in Şişli was turned into a special project area with the approval of Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar.

Turanlı allegedly met with Erdoğan in Ankara on July 17 of last year to request that the Şişli land be turned into a special project area. Following the meeting, Erdoğan is claimed to have given an order to Bayraktar to complete the procedures related to the project.

On Dec. 27 of last year, after being arrested in the second wave of the corruption operation, Turanlı told the Bugün daily about the bribery allegations against the minister: “Ten municipalities illegally took TL 20 million from me. Everything has been recorded.”

Within the scope of the corruption and bribery investigation, prosecutors charged the minister and his son Abdullah Oğuz Bayraktar with granting privileges to certain individuals by helping them obtain approval on special project areas for the development area known as Bakırköy 46, which belongs to Ağaoğlu Construction; the development project on the property of the Bulgarian foundation to be carried out by the Taş Yapı Construction Company was one of them.

“Principles and transparency are lacking in current [Turkish] politics,” Mehmet Altan, a professor at İstanbul University, told Sunday’s Zaman. Altan also stressed that construction companies have financed politics dozens of times through changes in the Public Procurement Law since the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) first came to power in 2002, and that amendments in competition laws prevent the efficient use of resources in Turkey.

On Jan. 1, the Financial Times put emphasis on the ever-increasing activity of Erdoğan and government in Turkey’s construction sector, as the second phase of the major corruption investigation launched on Dec. 25 shifted the attention towards issues in public tenders and big construction projects.

“In private conversations with the FT, two leading Turkish businessmen said bribes were sometimes necessary to go ahead with big construction projects, although the government emphasizes that Turkey has improved its standing in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index over the past decade to 53rd out of 177 countries this year,” the daily reported.

The daily maintained that Erdoğan plays a leading role in the sector: according to a notice published in the Official Gazette in June, all transfers of state companies’ real estate holdings have to be approved by the prime minister.

In a more recent audio recording uploaded to YouTube in late February, two people, allegedly the prime minister and his son Bilal Erdoğan, are discussing a lower-than-promised bribe from a businessman whose name is mentioned by Bilal as Sıtkı. In the recording, Erdoğan ordered Bilal to hold out for a better offer in an unspecified deal with the businessman: “Don’t take it [the money]. Whatever he has promised us, that’s what he should bring. If he is not going to bring that, there is no need,” says the voice on the recording. “The others are bringing [that amount]. Why can’t he bring it? What do they think this business is? … But don’t worry, they will fall into our lap.”

The second audio track, with accompanying text, says the businessman mentioned in the tape is Sıtkı Ayan, the chairman of İstanbul-based transportation company Turang. Some media outlets claim the conversation may have been be about government incentives that Turang was granted for a business deal in Iran. Turang received a license in 2010 to build part of a pipeline intended to carry gas from Iran and Turkmenistan to Europe through Turkey, according to its website. It was granted incentives including tax exemptions on investments of up to TL 11.5 billion ($5.2 billion) from the government in December, according to the Economy Ministry’s website. Representatives of Turang were not immediately available for comment as of Thursday morning.

Yet, it seems that the scope of bribery has not been limited to the construction sector, as new audio recordings posted on YouTube last weekend confirmed bribery involving Bilal Erdoğan.

In the conversation, Mehmet Fatih Saraç, known as “Alo Fatih” for his close ties to Erdoğan and for seeming to act as a monitor of Ciner Media Group’s publishing policy for Erdoğan, tells Bilal that Ali Kibar will donate to the Turkish Youth and Education Foundation (TÜRGEV), of which Bilal Erdoğan is an executive board member. Bilal responds by asking if the money is “zakat” — an Islamic form of donation to charity — or something different. Saraç replies that money is not being given as zakat.

In 2011, Turkey’s national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) agreed to commence the mass production of an aircraft seats project amounting $5 billion jointly with Kibar Holding, with an eventual goal of marketing them overseas.

Source: Todays Zaman
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British penalties for China bribery may be on the way for GSK

China has yet to leverage any formal penalties on GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) for the $489 million bribery scandal that broke there last summer. But punishment may be on the way from GSK’s home base.

On Friday, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) told the South China Morning Post that it plans to prosecute or fine some companies for overseas bribery, and some say GSK is likely among them. “We assume this includes GlaxoSmithKline,” Rob Elvin, managing partner of law firm Squire Sanders, told the newspaper.

According to the Post, a new SFO policy unveiled earlier this month will make it faster and easier to deal with overseas bribery cases. A deferred prosecution agreement policy, which allows companies to settle criminal allegations without being prosecuted and without formally admitting guilt, will be available for economic crimes starting Monday.

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GSK CEO Andrew Witty

Glaxo, though, has already admitted guilt in China, with emerging markets chief Abbas Hussain identifying “breaches” of Chinese law and offering price cuts as part of an apology to government officials for funneling doctor bribes through travel agencies. CEO Andrew Witty has acknowledged guilt, too, pinning it on “certain senior executives” at GSK China who acted “outside our process and controls.”

Accordingly, Chinese authorities talked openly of imposing “astronomical” fines on the drugmaker back in September. But so far, an 18% pharmaceuticals and vaccines sales hit for 2013 in the country has been GSK’s only monetary penalty, aside from the self-imposed price cuts. In November, Reuters reported that the British pharma giant would likely escape Chinese corruption charges, though its local executives probably wouldn’t.

Aside from British and Chinese probes, Glaxo is currently subject to an investigation in the U.S., where its listed shares make it vulnerable to prosecution for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. But Glaxo anticipated as much from the get-go: “Since the investigation in China began, we have proactively reached out to relevant regulators,” spokesman David Mawdsley told Reuters in September. “This includes the DoJ, and we have been in an ongoing dialogue with them.”

– get more from the South China Morning Post

Source: FiercePharma

Read more: British penalties for China bribery may be on the way for GSK – FiercePharma 
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