Skip to main content

China convicts two corporate investigators linked to bribery allegations

By Katie Hunt, CNN
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 0709 GMT (1509 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Peter Humphrey and wife Yu Yingzeng sentenced to at least two years in prison
  • Pair admitted to obtaining personal information on Chinese citizens by illegal means
  • They did work on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline's China arm
  • The drug giant faces allegations of bribery

Hong Kong (CNN) -- An expatriate corporate investigator has been sentenced to two and a half years in a Chinese jail after being found guilty of stealing and selling personal information for profit, Chinese state media has reported. His wife and business partner was also found guilty of the same charge and was handed a two-year prison sentence.

Briton Peter Humphrey, who has been in detention since July 2013, appeared in a Shanghai court on Friday at the same time as his wife and business partner Yu Yingzeng. Yu is a Chinese-born U.S. citizen.

READ: GSK-linked investigator's trial begins

According to a court statement quoted by official news agency Xinhua, the pair confessed to obtaining private information about Chinese citizens by "illegal means."

They said they would write reports based on this information and sell them to multinational companies.

In court, Humphrey said that he had conducted a two-month investigation on behalf of GlaxoSmithKline's China management into who had filed formal allegations of bribery against the company, Xinhua reported.

Chinese police have accused GSK executives in China of presiding over a web of corruption and bribery. GSK has said its China business is fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

READ: China scandal takes toll on Glaxo

In a July 3 statement, GSK said it had hired Humphrey's firm in April 2013 to conduct an investigation following a serious breach of privacy and security related to the company's China general manager.

Humphrey is a veteran corporate detective -- an investigator, similar to a private detective, but one which sniffs out corporate malfeasance -- who spent more than 20 years as a foreign correspondent with Reuters, including stints in Beijing and Eastern Europe.

ChinaWhys, the investigations consultancy that Yu and Humphrey established, assisted in assessing corporate risks, conducting background checks and investigating allegations of corruption and fraud.

The couple's son, who attended court, had told CNN that he believed it would be easier for his parents if they pleaded guilty.

"I'm hoping it will be a situation where they plead guilty and they go for a mitigation defense strategy, and just try to make it as lenient a sentencing as possible," he said before the trial.

READ: China bars Glaxo exec from leaving country

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0153 GMT (0953 HKT)
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
North Korean refugees face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1039 GMT (1839 HKT)
It'd be hard to find another country that has spent as much, and as furiously, as China on giving its next generation a head start.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0532 GMT (1332 HKT)
In 1985, Meng Weina set up China's first private special needs school in the southern city of Guangzhou.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 2014 GMT (0414 HKT)
Despite China's inexorable economic rise, the U.S. is still an indispensable ally, especially in Asia. No one knows this more than the Asian giant's leaders, writes Kerry Brown.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 0338 GMT (1138 HKT)
For the United States and China to announce a plan reducing carbon emissions by almost a third by the year 2030 is a watershed moment for climate politics on so many fronts.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 2026 GMT (0426 HKT)
China shows off its new stealth fighter jet, but did it steal the design from an American company? Brian Todd reports.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0101 GMT (0901 HKT)
Airshow China in Zhuhai provides a rare glimpse of China's military and commercial aviation hardware.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
A new exchange initiative aims to bridge relations between the two countries .
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0551 GMT (1351 HKT)
Xi and Abe's brief summit featured all the enthusiasm of two unhappy schoolboys forced to make up after a schoolyard dust-up.
November 11, 2014 -- Updated 0112 GMT (0912 HKT)
Maybe you've decided to show your partner love with a new iPhone. But how about 99 of them?
November 3, 2014 -- Updated 0219 GMT (1019 HKT)
Can China's Muslim minority fit in? One school is at the heart of an ambitious experiment to assimilate China's Uyghurs.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1455 GMT (2255 HKT)
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is one of thousands of Americans learning Chinese.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 0500 GMT (1300 HKT)
Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou says he needs to maintain good economic ties with China while trying to keep Beijing's push for reunification at bay.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0528 GMT (1328 HKT)
Chinese drone-maker DJI wants to make aerial photography drones mainstream despite concerns about privacy.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 0518 GMT (1318 HKT)
A top retired general confesses to taking bribes, becoming the highest-profile figure in China's military to be caught up in war on corruption.
ADVERTISEMENT