Sanofi says it is conducting an investigation into allegations of bribery in the Middle East and Africa, and informed the US government of the claims made by a whistleblower.

In a statement sent to PharmaTimes, the French drugmaker has responded to a story published by the Wall Street Journal which has seen e-mails sent to the company by the aforementioned whistleblower. One allegation was that employees of Sanofi Kenya bribed medical professionals and paid doctors to attend conferences, giving them cash and gifts at its own events to win business.

Sanofi confirmed that it received “anonymous allegations of wrongdoing related to improper payments” that may have occurred between 2007 and 2012 in  certain parts of the Middle East and East Africa. It then engaged “an experienced external counsel to conduct a thorough investigation of all these allegations”.

In addition, the drugmaker says that “we proactively notified the US Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission of all of the allegations and indicated we would cooperate with any potential review”. The investigation is still ongoing “and is expected to take some time given that the allegations date back seven years”, Sanofi stated, stressing that “at this stage, it is too early to draw conclusions”.

Global compliance officer Dante Beccaria said the firm “takes these allegations seriously and does not condone wrongdoing by any of our employees”. Sanofi concluded by saying that it maintains “robust compliance protocols” across its subsidiaries worldwide and “strict controls to deter and detect conduct that may breach Sanofi’s policies or violate applicable laws”.

Just over a year ago, Sanofi was dragged into the China bribery scandal following allegations that some employees had bribed more than 500 doctors.