Thursday, November 17, 2016
Lawsuit Alleges GSK’s Witty Lied to the Media – Part I
A 42 page complaint was filed on November 15, 2016, by Peter Humphrey and his wife, Yu Yingzeng, in relation to GSK’s nefarious activities in China which saw the pair incarcerated for around 2 years in Chinese slum-like conditions prison cells.
The complaint delves deep into the whole sordid affair and alleges bribery on a huge scale, more importantly, the complaint alleges that GSK hired the services of Humphrey and Yu in efforts to smokescreen the corruption in China, corruption, according to the complaint, that they had known about for many years. Furthermore, the 42 page document alleges that GSK’s CEO, Andrew Witty, lied to the media when he was asked about the corruption in China.
Humphrey and Yingzeng were the founders of ChinaWhys, a professional-services consultancy that specializes in discreet risk mitigation solutions, consulting and investigation services to corporate clients in matters of high sensitivity across Greater China and the Asia Pacific.
On April 15, 2013, Humphrey met with GSK’s Head of Chinese operations, Mark Reilly, April Zhao, GSK China legal counsel and Brian Cahill, also GSK legal counsel. It was at this meeting that Humphrey was told that GSK had been sent a series of emails from a whistleblower alleging widespread corruption – GSK told Humphrey that they believed they knew who the whistleblower was.
Vivian Shi had previously worked for GSK as a government affairs director, GSK had terminated her services with them in December 2012. According to the complaint GSK claimed that Shi had orchestrated a “smear campaign” against GSK involving a total of 23 emails that had been sent to Chinese officials throughout the country, a letter had also been sent to GSK’s ‘top management’ alleging widespread corruption in GSK’s pharmaceutical and vaccine business that had been approved by GSK China’s senior management.
These were allegations brought to Humphreys attention just months after GSK had been fined a record breaking $3 billion by the Department of Justice in America – the fine was handed down after a guilty plea by GSK who, after the settlement, entered into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. The agreement requires enhanced accountability, increased transparency and wide- ranging monitoring activities conducted by both internal and independent external reviewers.
One month after meeting with GSK officials Humphrey was told that GSK’s global CEO, Andrew Witty, had been made aware that GSK had been using a travel agent to channel kickback to customers and doctors throughout China. Days after Witty had been made aware, the whistleblower also sent a video to him and other senior management that showed GSK China’s Mark Reilly engaged in sexual activity – Reilly later claimed that the woman in the video was his “regular girlfriend”.
GSK officials told Humphrey that they had launched their own internal inquiry regarding the whistleblower allegation and that they were false. They told Humphrey, “There is nothing there”. This, according to the complaint, was a lie.
Humphrey and his wife offered to investigate the whistleblower allegations but GSK declined the offer, opting instead for Humphrey to investigate Vivian Shi, the woman they believed was the whistleblower.
Two months after Humphrey and Yu started their background search of Vivian Shi, GSK received another letter from the whistleblower alleging that GSK China continues to engage in systematic bribery of doctors, this email focused on GSK China’s botox business whereby the whistleblower claimed that…
GSK had a ‘pay to prescribe’ scheme that funneled money through a central source at Beijing Medical College whereby ‘lecture fee payments’ were made to doctors who could “…incentivize and reward doctors for prescribing Botox.”
At no point did GSK show either Humphrey or Yu this letter.
On June 12, 2013, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) ran an article highlighting GSK China’s massive bribery network. In July of that year 4 senior GSK China executives were arrested and, according to Humphrey’s filed complaint, GSK CEO, Andrew Witty told the worlds media that “…it appears that certain senior executives in the Chinese business have acted outside of our processes and our controls to both defraud the company and Chinese healthcare system.” Witty also claimed that GSK’s Head office in London lacked knowledge of the whistleblower allegations and “had no sense of this issue.”
According to the complaint, this made no sense as since the previous month GSK did, indeed, “have a sense” of the issue since it announced its 4 month internal investigation into allegations of bribery and corruption in China and found “No evidence of corruption or bribery.”
The complaint states…
Witty argued, nonsensically, that the previous whistleblower allegations were “quite different” from the more recent charges, saying, “they are two completely different sets of issues, we fully investigated the first and, of course, this has now surfaced in the last couple of weeks.”
This was a lie, since “what surfaced” in the PSB investigation and raids of GSK offices in July was precisely the illegal activity that the whistleblower had documented and threatened to reveal in January.
The complaint was filed in The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Humphrey and Yu are represented by Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP
**Coming in Part 2**
– A full and comprehensive list of the allegations made by Peter Humphrey and Yu.
– GSK ask Humphrey to ‘overtly’ obstruct the Chinese government investigation.
– Evidence, including emails, to be destroyed as not to implicate any wrong-doing by the company.
Glaxo – The Sex Tape Scandal