The plot thickens in the investigation of GlaxoSmithKline employee Mark Reilly, after a report emerged Sunday of a sex tape of Reilly and his Chinese girlfriend. Chinese media has closely followed the Reilly affair for the past year since he was accused of bribing local doctors and officials to use drugs from GlaxoSmithKline PLC (LON:GSK) during his tenure as chief of the drugmaker's Chinese operation a few years ago.
The UK’s Sunday Times broke the news after confirming with a representative for the London-based drug manufacturer, one of the world's biggest with 2013 revenue of $45 billion. The Sunday Times reported that the video was shot without Reilly’s knowledge or consent at his home in Shanghai while the married (but separated) executive was with his girlfriend. The video was reportedly emailed to several higher-ups at GSK. While the salacious video draws more attention to Reilly and the case, a connection has not yet been made between the video and the bribery charges.
Several local Chinese news sources shared the story on blogs and social media, sparking discussion about the use of sex tapes in Chinese business.
“I wonder what Chinese businessmen this case will lead us to,” one commenter noted, adding, “First it was [government] officials; now private businesses are targeted.” In the past, Chinese officials, who are held to a increasingly high moral standard by the public, have been blackmailed by their mistresses with incriminating sex tapes. In some cases, other people paid mistresses to record intimate moments and used the videos to force executives into deals or to influence negotiations.
“This is certainly suspicious and will lead back to some Chinese manager,” one blogger suggested. “Something else is likely to be revealed.”
“This is an awakening for GSK,” another commenter said. “Business in China is mixed with corruption.”
The tape is the latest salacious development related to Reilly and the investigation. The private investigator and risk consultant Peter Humphrey, whom Reilly hired to clear his name, is currently detained in a Chinese prison. In a video that aired on Chinese state television, Humphrey admitted to illegally buying and selling private information on the pharmaceutical probe.
Other reports have claimed that GSK management could be responsible for the emails that originally revealed the alleged bribery. The Sunday Times, for one, named Vivian Shi, the company’s head of government affairs in China, as the person behind emails to GSK executives alleging that Reilly, along with two other China-based employees, Zhang Guowei and Zhao Hongyan, was bribing doctors.
GSK issued a statement on Monday about the ongoing investigation in China, calling it “very difficult and complicated,” adding, “We have zero tolerance for any kind of corruption in our business.”