GSK rehires former China government affairs director Shi

Reuters reported that GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has rehired former China government affairs director Vivian Shi, who was at one point investigated internally by the company as a possible source of leaks into a bribery probe.

GSK CEO Andrew Witty

The probe led to a conviction for GSK in China late last year that cost the company $479 million in fines, the amount the China government said the drugmaker had doled out in bribes. It also shook confidence in CEO Andrew Witty's stewardship of the company.

Shi, however, left the company in 2012, Reuters reported, before the bribery allegations surfaced indirectly as part of a blackmail effort against former China country head Mark Reilly.

Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng, who owned risk consultancy firm ChinaWhys and were brought in by GSK to review the blackmail attempt which included a sex tape and the bribery allegations, were subsequently arrested, tried and convicted for obtaining information illegally on Chinese citizens.

They were freed from 2.5-year jail terms in June.

GSK did not immediately respond to a request from FiercePharmaAsia for comment on Shi. But Reuters said the internal investigation did not prove Shi was involved in the emails, or any leaks. It also received a short statement from GSK.

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

"Vivian herself is not available for comment," it added.

In March, GSK moved to take disciplinary action, including termination, against 110 of its employees in the country, mostly Chinese, who it said violated its values and conduct code.

The company later said it had taken steps to monitor the expense-account claims of its employees who deal with government officials as it improved its compliance with China laws and regulations.

It added at the time that it had hired an independent law firm and outside consultants to help it turn around its China operations.

GSK still faces separate probes under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the U.K. antibribery law related to the China bribery conviction.

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