As bribery probe intensifies, China confines GlaxoSmithKline finance chief to its borders

GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) finance chief in China is stuck. The government won't let him cross the border. In the midst of investigating the company for bribery, officials confined Steve Nechelput to the country at the end of June, Reuters reports. His boss, China general manager Mark Reilly, got out on June 27, Bloomberg reports, citing Chinese officials.

Nechelput was turned back at the Chinese border at the end of last month, the Financial Times reports. A British citizen, Nechelput is free to move around the country and continue working at the company. He hasn't been detained or questioned by the police, GSK says. Four other Glaxo execs, all Chinese nationals, have been detained.

Reilly managed to leave for meetings in the U.K. and has since been working from company headquarters in London, a source tells Bloomberg.

China charges that GSK employees used travel agencies as a conduit for bribing healthcare providers. The company allegedly paid up to $439 million to engineer bribes, via 700 travel agencies and other operations, over the past 6 years.

Since China leveled its accusations, Glaxo has brought in Ernst & Young auditors to review its operations there, the FT reports. Internal auditors and lawyers have also been dispatched to the country. And according to the Wall Street Journal, the U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office is reviewing the bribery allegations; Reuters notes that the company could face prosecution in its home country under Britain's Bribery Act.

Meanwhile, Chinese authorities suspended operations at a travel agency allegedly at the center of the money-moving operation, Shanghai Linjiang International Travel Agency, Reuters says. Police are investigating the agencies' suspected involvement in illegal activities, including falsifying bills, the news service says. 

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