A no entry sign is pictured outside the GlaxoSmithKline building in Hounslow, west London in this June 18, 2013 file photo. . REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/Files
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Britain's fraud office has launched a formal criminal investigation into GlaxoSmithKline, posing a new challenge to the drugmaker, which already faces claims of bribery in China and four other countries.Shares in the company -- Britain's biggest drugmaker and the sixth-largest pharmaceuticals group in the world by sales -- fell 1.5 percent in early Wednesday trading on the news.Neither the SFO nor GSK gave any further details about the case, and a company spokesman declined to elaborate.The decision by the British fraud office does not come as a complete surprise, since lawyers and industry analysts had pointed out that allegations against GSK in overseas markets could expose it to charges under the 2010 UK Bribery Act.Authorities in China first accused GSK last July of funnelling up to 3 billion yuan ($480 million) in bribes to encourage doctors to use its medicines in a case that the company described in 2013 as "shameful".
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