This content is from: China (PRC)

China-based private investigators receive prison terms

Peter Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng, the China-based investigators hired by GlaxoSmithKline to investigate corruption allegations, have been sentenced to 30 months and 24 months respectively for illegally obtaining private information

Peter Humphrey

In a one-day trial, the Shanghai Intermediate Number One Court found that the British Humphrey (right) and Yu, his American wife, broke the law by illegally obtaining private information in the course of their investigations. In addition to the jail sentences, Humphrey received a RMB 200,000 fine ($32,500), while Yu was fined RMB 150,000. Humphrey will also be deported.

Humphrey and Yu have 10 days to appeal.

Donald Clarke of the Chinese Law Prof Blog has a copy of the Chinese language transcript posted by the court.

Humphrey and Yu are the founders of the private investigation firm ChinaWhys. In April 2013, GlaxoSmithKline hired the firm to investigate an anonymous email alleging that GSK employees were engaging in an elaborate bribery scheme. The detailed allegations also contained a video of GSK China head Mark Reilly in what appeared to be his Shanghai apartment.

In July 2013 Chinese authorities arrested Humphrey and Yu. Humphrey soon after issued an apology on Chinese television for his company's actions and said that he never intended to break Chinese law. GSK also admitted that its China-based executives had engaged in illegal activities.

The ChinaWhys case has been closely watched by international companies, as many regularly rely on private investigators to conduct due diligence on investments, business partners and other aspects of its business. This is especially true in IP enforcement, where companies often engage investigators to track down the sources of counterfeit goods.

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