More than one billion pounds was wiped off GlaxoSmithKline as investors dumped the stock after the Serious Fraud Office launched a criminal investigation against the drugs giant.
Britain’s biggest pharmaceutical company, already facing claims of bribery in China and four other countries, saw the shares slide 1.5 per cent, or 23.5p, to 1611p, knocking around £1.2 billion off its value.
The launch of the SFO action comes less than two weeks after Chinese police announced that they had charged the former British boss of Glaxo’s China business and other colleagues with corruption after finding evidence of an elaborate scheme to bribe doctors and hospitals.
China first accused Glaxo last July of funnelling up to 3 billion renminbi (£288 million) in bribes to encourage doctors to use its medicines in a case the company described in 2013 as “shameful”.
Since then, allegations have surfaced in other countries and Glaxo is investigating claims that bribes were paid to doctors in Poland, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon.
Shares in the giant are down nearly 10 per cent this year.