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Adidas investigates bribery allegations in China

REUTERS/FLORENCE LO / JUNE 14
                                A man takes pictures of an Adidas flagship store, which has been redecorated ahead of Argentina’s friendly soccer match with Australia, at a shopping complex in Beijing, China.
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REUTERS/FLORENCE LO / JUNE 14

A man takes pictures of an Adidas flagship store, which has been redecorated ahead of Argentina’s friendly soccer match with Australia, at a shopping complex in Beijing, China.

Adidas has launched an investigation into allegations of large-scale bribery in China after the company received a whistleblower complaint that accused senior staff of embezzling “millions of euros,” the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

The anonymous letter, which claims to have been written by “employees of Adidas China,” names several Chinese Adidas employees including a senior manager involved with the marketing budget in the country, which the document said stood at 250 million euros ($267.5 million) a year, the FT reported.

Adidas confirmed that it had received an anonymous letter on June 7 indicating potential compliance violations in China. The German sportswear company said it was investigating this matter together with external legal counsel.

“Adidas takes allegations of possible compliance violations very seriously and is clearly committed to complying with legal and internal regulations and ethical standards in all markets where we operate,” it said in a statement issued in response to a Reuters query. Adidas said it could not provide further information until the investigation was completed.

According to the FT, the letter alleges that Adidas staff received kickbacks from external service providers who were commissioned by the company that include “millions in cash from suppliers, and physical items such as real estate.”

China sales of the German sportswear giant grew by 8% in the first-quarter, the company reported earlier.

($1 = 0.9346 euros)

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