WPP fires GroupM executive detained over bribery charges

—The executive was terminated following a post by Shanghai’s economic police, alleging that multiple former employees of an ad agency in China had taken advantage of their positions and facilitated large bribes—

By Rahat Kapur

British ad conglomerate WPP has fired an executive from GroupM China who has been detained on alleged bribery charges.

Campaign Asia-Pacific‘s coverage over the weekend identified GroupM China’s chief investment officer Rycan Di as one of three people detained in relation to the incident, along with two other former GroupM employees—ex-head of data centre Yao Lan, and ex-general manager for GroupM China, Diana Hong.

The three parties were also explicitly named in a police statement issued by Shanghai’s Economic Investigations Department (ECID) on the social media site Weibo on Saturday night.

It is alleged the events relate to the nature of rebate mismanagement, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.

Patrick Xu, GroupM China’s CEO and country managing director for WPP China, was also questioned by police but not detained.

Following the Shanghai authorities’ official post, WPP also issued its own statement last night, asserting that they are co-operating with Chinese authorities, and have halted any affiliations with any external organizations related to the police investigation:

Following the detention of a GroupM China executive on charges of bribery last week, we are cooperating with the authorities and conducting our own investigation with an independent third party. We cannot comment on the details of an active police investigation. However, we are terminating the executive’s employment with the company, and GroupM is suspending trade with any external organization we understand to be part of the police enquiries. We are absolutely committed to behaving in accordance with the law and our own code of conduct, and will take all necessary action to ensure this is the case within our business.

It is unclear if Di, Yao and Hong are still being detained by Shanghai’s police. Campaign Asia-Pacific has reached out to WPP and its sources for further information. More as this story develops.

This article first appeared on Campaign Asia