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18 more GSK staff held in China

Another 18 GlaxoSmithKline employees have been detained by Chinese authorities as a major criminal investigation into alleged corruption widens.

The British drugs giant is embroiled in a scandal which allegedly saw millions of pounds in bribes paid to Chinese doctors and health officials to boost sales and raise prices.

Chinese state media said police have detained more GSK employees after four of the company's senior executives were arrested in relation to the claims earlier this month.

A report also claimed the group faced similar allegations from a whistleblower as early as January, although the group has said it only became aware of the specific problems identified by Chinese police two weeks ago.

The Sunday Telegraph said an email from an anonymous whistleblower was sent to the GSK board, auditors and the Serious Fraud Office in January, detailing similar claims to those now being investigated by Chinese police.

The email alleged money was transferred into "almost every" new GSK sales employee's personal bank account to pay cash bribes to doctors to prescribe drugs.

GSK said it "thoroughly investigated" the whistleblower's allegations earlier this year.

A spokesman said: "These investigations did not support the specific allegations being made by the whistleblower.

"We understand that the allegations made by the Chinese authorities in the ongoing investigation are different and separate to the whistleblower's particular allegations.

GSK boss Sir Andrew Witty last week described the recent corruption allegations as ''shameful'' and "deeply disappointing".

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