British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline confirmed Monday the existence of a sex tape of the former boss of its China division, which reportedly emerged just before Beijing launched a bribery probe into the company.
The Sunday Times newspaper reported that senior GSK executives had been sent a covertly-filmed video of Mark Reilly and his girlfriend.
"We can confirm the existence of the tape," a GSK spokesman told AFP. "The issues relating to our China business are very difficult and complicated."
The Sunday Times said the sex tape was filmed in Reilly's Shanghai apartment.
The newspaper reported that GSK authorised Reilly to hire Peter Humphrey, a British private investigator based in China, to look into the origin of the video in April 2013.
But Humphrey was unable to establish who installed the camera in Reilly's bedroom, the report said.
Humphrey and his wife, Yu Yingzeng,were detained in Shanghai in July 2013 on charges of illegally obtaining personal information.
Humphrey is the British founder of Shanghai-based risk advisory firm ChinaWhys, while Yu, a US citizen, worked as its general manager.
Chinese authorities last month ended a nearly one-year probe into GSK, accusing Reilly of ordering employees to commit bribery, and handing the case over to prosecutors.
"The investigation by the Chinese authorities remains ongoing and we are cooperating fully with this investigation," GSK's spokesman said. "Out of respect for the process we cannot comment on it at this time.
"We have zero tolerance for any kind of corruption in our business and we have many policies, procedures, controls in place to monitor this and we take action against any breaches."
Chinese police allege that Reilly had "pressed his sales teams to bribe hospitals, doctors and health institutions" in order to gain billions of dollars in illegal revenue, the official Xinhua news agency reported in May.
Reilly and two Chinese GSK executives are also accused of bribing government officials in Beijing and Shanghai, Xinhua said.
The investigation into GSK was launched at a time when China initiated sweeping probes into alleged malpractice by foreign companies in a number of sectors, and against the backdrop of an anti-graft campaign backed by President Xi Jinping to root out official corruption.
In addition to GSK, pharmaceutical giants including Germany's Merck, Switzerland's Novartis and US-based Baxter have been involved in a far-reaching pricing probe, while France's Sanofi is also being investigated over allegations that it bribed more than 500 doctors.