China charges GSK-linked investigators for illegally obtaining private information

Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:34am EDT
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By Adam Jourdan

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Prosecutors in China have filed charges against British investigator Peter Humphrey and his American wife, the official Xinhua news agency said on Monday, after the couple were detained last year following work they did for British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK.L: Quote).

The case against Humphrey and his wife, Yu Yingzeng, has become a key piece in a long-running investigation into GSK, whose China executives have been charged with orchestrating a widespread network of bribery to promote sales.

The case against the couple, who have been accused of illegally obtaining private information, has been formally lodged with the Shanghai Number One Intermediate People's Court for trial, Xinhua said in a report.

Two family friends with knowledge of the matter told Reuters this month that the couple's trial was set for Aug. 7 and would be closed to the public. The secrecy surrounding the trial has raised concern among British and U.S. officials.

China's foreign ministry said last week the trial would be handled in accordance with the law.

ChinaWhys, the risk consultancy run by the couple, was employed by GSK in April 2013 to investigate an ex-employee suspected of sending anonymous emails, including the circulation of an intimate video of former GSK China head Mark Reilly with his girlfriend, as well as emails containing allegations of widespread bribery at the British drugmaker.

In an eight-minute news report aired on Monday by state run China Central Television (CCTV), Humphrey said he and his wife "deeply regret" breaking any Chinese law. He added ChinaWhys would not have worked with GSK if the drugmaker had informed him about the full details of the whistleblower emails.

"It was certainly not our intention to violate Chinese law," Humphrey, wearing an orange vest over his clothes, said in the interview, which the state broadcaster said was conducted a few days ago in a Shanghai police station.   Continued...

A Chinese national flag is seen in front of a GlaxoSmithKline office building in Shanghai in this July 12, 2013 file photo.  REUTERS/Aly Song