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WPP fires executive detained in China on suspicion of corruption

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Advertising giant WPP has announced that it has fired an executive detained in China on suspicion of corruption.

Last week it was reported that Chinese police had raided the Shanghai office of advertising agency GroupM, owned by WPP.

On Tuesday, the British company told CNN that “we are cooperating with the authorities and conducting our own investigation with an independent third party.”

“We are terminating the executive’s employment with the company and GroupM is suspending its business dealings with any external organizations that we believe are part of the police investigations,” WPP (WPP) said in a statement.

The world’s largest advertising agency declined to provide further details about the matter, citing an active police investigation.

On Saturday, Shanghai police announced in a statement that they had arrested a senior executive of an advertising agency and two other people. Based on a preliminary investigation, they were suspected of accepting bribes between 2019 and February 2023, police said. Police did not name the company, but the Financial Times and Chinese state media have linked it to GroupM.

The news came shortly after Japanese authorities revealed last week that China had arrested a Japanese national who allegedly worked for drugmaker Astellas Pharma. The individual had previously been arrested on suspicion of violating the country’s criminal law and anti-espionage law.

On Sunday, Chinese state media reported that Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics maker, was also under investigation by Chinese authorities over land use and tax concerns.

A few weeks earlier, Foxconn founder Terry Gou announced his candidacy for president of Taiwan and told the public that he would not be pressured to follow orders from Beijing, despite his long-standing business ties with the country.

Although it is unclear whether the investigations are linked to Gou’s political ambitions, experts have warned that these developments could further undermine foreign businesses in China.

In July, China expanded the scope of its already broad anti-espionage law in a move that analysts say could create more legal risks or uncertainty for foreign companies, as well as journalists and journalists. academics.

The same month, China fined Mintz Group, a U.S. corporate due diligence company, approximately $1.5 million for allegedly conducting unapproved statistical work in the country. Authorities had already closed the group’s office in Beijing in March and arrested five of its local employees.

In May, state security authorities said they raided several offices of Capvision, a consulting network. The announcement comes a month after police questioned employees at the Shanghai office of consultancy Bain.

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