Earlier today GSK issued an apology to the people of China, to my knowledge this is the first time an apology has been issued from anyone at GSK – Let’s face it, they have a pretty dubious history with regard to a number of their drugs causing birth defects, homicide, suicide and heart attacks. No apology has ever been given to victims of Paxil or Avandia.
The apology, which can be read in full here, comes as a result of GSK pleading guilty and being handed down a fine of 3 billion yuan ($488.8 million) in the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court in Hunan Province earlier today.
The ringleader, or mastermind behind the whole bribery network, Mark Reilly, was given a three year suspended prison sentence and, according to various media reports, will be deported from China.
The one-day trial, held in secrecy, saw a total of four years in sentencing handed down to Reilly and four other managers, Zhang Guowei, Zhao Hongyan, Liang Hong and Huang Hong, all of whom worked for GSK. According to the New York Times, all but one of the sentences was suspended.
According to the court report, “it (the court) had taken into account that he (Reilly) had returned from Britain to face the investigators, and that he had “truthfully recounted the crimes of his employer,” meriting a relatively lenient punishment”
This must come as a kick in the teeth for Peter Humprey and his wife, Yu Yinzeng, who were jailed back in August for trafficking 256 pieces of personal information between 2009 and 2013.
Humprey’s firm, ChinaWhys, had previously been hired by GSK China to look into allegations of wrong-doing by Mark Reilly. Humphrey’s son, Harvey, has maintained all along that GSK were to blame for his father’s incarceration at the hands of the Chinese. This from the UK Telegraph…
“They said the allegations were untrue,” said Harvey. “Then two weeks later they said actually these things did happen. My father would have changed the conditions of the investigation if he had known. He would have investigated the allegations instead of this one person. I do not think as an investigator you would have taken the risk of investigating a whistleblower before you investigated the allegations.”
GSK has insisted that an initial investigation into the claims “did not find evidence to substantiate the specific allegations made in the whistleblower emails”.
“When I saw my dad last Friday, I mentioned GSK once. I mentioned Reilly to him once. He expressed a very low opinion of Reilly.”
I’m kind of surprised at the leniency of the Chinese authorities. The reason, they claim, they were so lenient was because Reilly had returned to China and had “truthfully recounted the crimes of his employer” – his employer?
I’m confused, wasn’t it Reilly who carried out the crimes unbeknownst to his employer, GSK?
Perfect timing for the trial too. The British press are all over the Scottish ‘yes’ or ‘no’ votes so any news that GSK have been pleading guilty to crimes committed in China will have less column inches in the British media. It would be interesting to find out who decided the date of the trial.
Late last year Glaxo CEO Andrew Witty accompanied British Prime Minister David Cameron on a “Business” trip to China.
Cameron defended GlaxoSmithKline’s business practices in China calling GSK “very decent”.
Let’s just take a look at their apology to the people of China again to see how “very decent” their behaviour was…
“Following a comprehensive investigation by the Chinese judicial authorities, GSK China Investment Co. Ltd (GSKCI) has been identified according to Chinese law to have offered money or property to non-government personnel in order to obtain improper commercial gains, and has been found guilty of bribing non-government personnel.
I don’t know what David Cameron’s definition of the word ‘decent’ is but to assign it to GSK is borderline madness!
I’m in no doubt that Cameron was influential in helping Reilly escape jail time, no doubt at all.
So, will Reilly, once deported, be arrested when he sets foot back on British soil?
I guess that’s a job for the UK’s Serious Fraud Office who, earlier this year, announced that they would be investigating GlaxoSmithKline as a result of the Chinese allegations – well, they aren’t allegations any more, Glaxo have, today, pleaded guilty.
If you think that the UK’s Serious Fraud Office will be standing at Heathrow with handcuffs to arrest Reilly then you may be mistaken, if anything, it will be David Cameron and Andrew Witty that will greet Reilly with open arms… “Well done old chum, our shares are back on the rise”.
Meantime, 100 or so plaintiffs in the UK face disappointment after GSK have refused to pay out compensation to them for suffering severe withdrawal reactions to the antidepressant Seroxat [known as Paxil in the US]. This, despite settling over 3,000 cases of Paxil addiction in the US.
Welcome to Britain folks!