Chinese police are likely to charge only the local executives allegedly embroiled in corrupt practices at GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK). No charges will be made against the pharmaceutical company, reports Reuters.
The firm has been accused of engaging in direct bribery as well as indirect bribery through its sponsorship of various activities. In July this year, senior executives of the company's Chinese subsidiary "confessed to serious commercial bribery and tax crimes" following an investigation by China's Ministry of Public Security.
Police have detained four senior Chinese GSK executives. They include vice president and operations manager Liang Hong, who gave an account on Chinese television in July of how the alleged bribery was carried out.
Reuters reports that a charge against GSK itself could result in major fines and even disruption to the company's operations in China.
Reuters' sources also said that investigators are unlikely to lay criminal charges against Briton Mark Reilly, GSK's former head of China operations, who has been voluntarily assisting authorities handling the probe.
GSK has said some of its senior Chinese executives appear to have broken the law. It has also said it has zero tolerance for bribery, calling the allegations in China "shameful."
"The investigation is ongoing and we are fully cooperating with the authorities. The investigation is subject to Chinese law and GSK respects this. As such, we are unable to comment further at this stage," said GSK spokesman Simon Steel.
Under China's criminal code, individuals found guilty of serious bribery can face 10 years to life in prison. A voluntarily confession can result in a sentence reduction.If allegations of bribery are not found to be criminal but administrative in nature, authorities can fine individuals up to 200,000 yuan.
U.S. authorities are also investigating the British drugmaker for violations of U.S. anti-bribery laws in the wake of the China accusations and it could also face questions from Britain's Serious Fraud Office, reports Reuters.