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GSK emerging markets head sent to handle China crisis: source

A Chinese employee walks into a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) office in Beijing, July 19, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee
A Chinese employee walks into a GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) office in Beijing, July 19, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Lee

LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline has sent its head of emerging markets to China to lead the drugmaker's response to an unfolding crisis over alleged bribery and corruption, a person familiar with the situation said on Friday.

Abbas Hussain, GSK President Emerging Markets, was dispatched by Chief Executive Andrew Witty, along with the group's head of internal audit and a senior legal official, the source said. The executives have now arrived in the country.

GSK has also hired auditors Ernst & Young to carry out an independent review of its systems in China in the wake of the scandal, another source said on Wednesday.

On Monday, Chinese police accused GSK of bribing officials and doctors to boost sales and raise the price of its medicines in China. They said GSK transferred up to 3 billion yuan ($489 million) to 700 travel agencies and consultancies over six years to facilitate the bribes.

Britain's biggest drugmaker has said it was deeply concerned by the developments, which it called "shameful".

China has detained four senior Chinese executives and banned GSK's finance chief in China, Steve Nechelput, from leaving the country.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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