Bribery Act & Proceeds of Crime - Written by on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 3:55 - 0 Comments

OPINION: GSK. Drip. Drip. Drip. Our solution.

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GSK-logoThe news broken this week in a Reuters story that GSK has received a whistleblower allegations relating to dealings in Syria is unwelcome for the UK headquartered pharmaceutical giant.

Mired in an investigation in China, with similar bribery claims against GSK in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Poland the stories seem to keep on coming.

The BBC reported that an email addressed to CEO Andrew Witty and Judy Lewent, the chair of GSK’s audit committee, says: “GSK has been engaging in multiple corrupt and illegal practices in conducting its pharmaceutical business in Syria.”

A GSK spokesman, adopting the PR 101 for a company asked to comment on something like this, was reported as saying:

“All the claims in this email will be thoroughly investigated using internal and external resources as part of our ongoing investigation into operations in Syria……We are committed to taking any disciplinary actions resulting from the findings. We have suspended our relationship with our distributors in the country pending the outcome of our investigation.”

No-one likes surprises whether they be CEO’s or investigators and prosecutors and no doubt as each story about bribery allegations surface in another place, eyebrows will be raised further.

It is too early to know if there is any truth in the latest allegations but the context appears to be an unsolicited email.

Reuters reported that the author of the latest email said information about alleged GSK corruption would be passed on to the U.S. authorities – no doubt in pursuit of the bounty available under the Dodd Frank Act.

Whatever, GSK appears reactive, not proactive, in the face of these investigations and allegations.

Reuters, not GSK, broke the story.

There is a limit to what GSK can say faced as it is with investigations on both sides of the pond and another in China.

But GSK needs to get out in front.

A more proactive approach would include a global review of their compliance program, and if one is already underway then more proactive messaging of it.

Even adopting a risk based prioritisation places like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon would be close to the top of the list as a place to start.  Had they done so it is possible GSK would have controlled the situation and the story better.

There is a world of difference in promising to investigate yet another unsolicited whistleblower report to actively reviewing its global compliance program and taking steps to try and get a handle on what is going on.

The situation is far from ideal but we advocate GSK does its best to try to take back control.

 

 

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