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GSK investigator jailed by Chinese authorities

Peter Humphrey found guilty of breaking privacy laws

china court peter humphrey gsk 
Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng at court in China

A British private investigator hired by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in China has been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail for breaking privacy laws.

A Chinese court found Peter Humphrey and his American wife Yu Yingzeng  - who was jailed for two years - guilty of illegally obtaining Chinese citizens' data and selling it to China-based multinational firms.

They were also fined 200,000 yuan (around $33,000) and 150,000 yuan, respectively, and Humphrey will be deported at the end of his sentence, according to the court, which reached a verdict and delivered sentencing within just 12 hours of proceedings.

The couple operated a consultancy called ChinaWhys that had worked for a number of multinational companies, including GSK's China subsidiary, although the court proceedings did not make any direct link with the pharma company's ongoing corruption scandal in China, which is now also being investigated in the UK and US.

Humphrey and Yu were arrested in August 2013, shortly after delivering a report to GSK relating to accusations that its employees channelled almost $490m in kickbacks to doctors and health officials using hundreds of middlemen, including travel agencies and consultancy firms.

GSK retained ChinaWhys to look into allegations made against GSK China via an anonymous letter in January 2013, as well as a sex tape featuring the subsidiary's former head Mark Reilly and his girlfriend a few weeks later.

A key objective was to identify the whistleblower behind the claims, and in an attempt to do so Humphrey and his wife undertook an information-gathering exercise that involved the purchase of mobile phone records, customs records and household registration data, according to court documents.

ChinaWhys paid between $130 and $320 a time for the data, although Humphrey insisted throughout the trial that the company had paid people for services, not information. The pharma company has indicated it believes the whistleblower may be former executive Vivian Shi, though she has denied any involvement.

Humphrey spent two decades as a Reuters correspondent and the past 14 years as a "risk management specialist and corporate detective", according to the ChinaWhys website.

He has said he feels wronged by GSK, claiming the company did not give him a clear picture of the extent of the accusations it was facing when it retained his services.

Article by
Phil Taylor

11th August 2014

From: Sales, Regulatory

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