Unconfirmed reports have surfaced that GlaxoSmithKline have hired the services of Ropes & Gray, a US law firm, to conduct an external investigation of its China business.
Colleen Conry and Brien O’Connor, co-leaders of the Ropes & Gray government enforcement practice, were successful in winning an acquittal for former GlaxoSmithKline associate general counsel Lauren Stevens in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland back in 2011.
Stevens was acquitted on charges that she withheld documents from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in its inquiry into possible off-label marketing of the antidepressant Wellbutrin.
I'm really struggling with the whole GSK Chinagate debacle.
It's bizarre, to say the least.
Firstly, they receive a bunch of emails from a whistleblower, at least 23 anonymous emails were sent to government agencies around the country and to GSK’s top management alleging that bribery was rife in GSK China sales and that the practice was endorsed by senior GSK management.
Instead of investigating the claims, Glaxo decided to investigate who they thought was behind the emails.
Vivian Shi, the company’s former head of government affairs in the country and the person GSK suspected was trying to damage the company, was investigated by Peter Humphrey and his wife, Yu Yingzeng.
However, Humphrey found nothing that pointed toward Shi as being the whistleblower.
In his report, Mr Humphrey warned the company that, by focusing on Ms Shi, it might not be seeing the wood for the trees.
“GSK should be wary of possible operational loopholes that make it vulnerable,” he concluded in the confidential report submitted to his client, adding that such loopholes included “wrongdoings committed by employees or business partners”. [Source 双语新闻Bilingual News]
Humphrey and his wife were, shortly after their investigation into the whistleblower, arrested by Chinese authorities, which, to me at least, suggests they used illegal means when investigating Shi.
Humphrey and his wife are currently being held custody in Shanghai’s Pudong District Detention House. They are awaiting a trial that will be held behind closed doors, away from the public.
Shortly after their arrest Chinese authorities turned their attention to GSK's Mark Reilly. Reilly was arrested on suspicion of ordering GSK employees to form a massive bribery network.
The whereabouts of Reilly is unknown, other than he is currently in China.
He is not being held in any detention centre.
Hiring Ropes & Gray to conduct an external investigation of its China business seems to confirm that their own investigation of the allegations just wasn't good enough.
GSK carried out their own internal investigation into the allegations but found nothing on the scale of what the Chinese authorities found...or have alleged.
By hiring Ropes & Gray aren't GSK admitting that their own internal investigation team failed?
Have Ropes & Gray really been hired to conduct an external investigation or have they been hired to help with Reilly's defense?
An email to Ropes & Gray asking them to confirm that they have been hired by GSK went unanswered.
My thoughts in this post are based purely on the unconfirmed reports that Ropes & Gray have been hired by GSK.
Glaxo - The Sex Tape Scandal
Peter Humphrey's 2012 Presentation - Pharma Bribery
GSK's Chinese Whispers and David Cameron
“GSK were really cagey", Claims Whitehall Official.