China sentences GSK-linked investigators to prison

Fri Aug 8, 2014 12:32pm EDT
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By Brenda Goh and Engen Tham

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China sentenced a British corporate investigator to 2-1/2 years in prison on Friday for illegally obtaining private records of Chinese citizens and selling the information on to clients including drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

Peter Humphrey and his American wife, Yu Yingzeng, who ran risk consultancy ChinaWhys, were tried in a Shanghai court. They said they were unaware such acts were criminal.

In a late evening verdict, the court said it found Humphrey and Yu guilty and handed Yu a slightly more lenient sentence of two years in jail. Humphrey was fined 200,000 yuan ($32,500), while Yu was fined 150,000 yuan.

According to a statement read out by a court official at a press conference, Humphrey will be deported. The court gave no further details about that aspect of the judgment.

"The two defendants illegally collected Chinese citizens' information over a long period of time and on many occasions. They collected a large amount of data and had also used illegal means, including investigative methods," said Tang Liming, vice-president of Shanghai No.1 People's Intermediate Court.

The couple have the right to appeal their sentence within 10 days, the court said, adding that it had confiscated a laptop and hard drive from them.

They were detained last year following work they did for British pharmaceuticals giant GSK, which is at the center of a separate government corruption investigation involving hundreds of millions of dollars.

They have spent the last 13 months in a Shanghai prison.   Continued...