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GSK-linked investigators formally charged in Shanghai court

Prosecutors in China have filed formal charges against British private investigator Peter Humphrey and his American wife, the state-controlled Xinhua news agency said Monday.

Humphrey and Yu Yingzeng, his wife and business partner, were arrested a year ago.

Xinhua said the couple were were charged with illegally obtaining private information in the Shanghai Number One Intermediate People’s Court, where they’ll face trial.

GlaxoSmithKline had hired their Shanghai-based firm, ChinaWhys, to investigate e-mails from a former employee that alleged widespread bribery at the British drugmaker.

The ex-employee was also suspected of circulating a sex tape of former GSK China head Mark Reilly with his girlfriend.

China police arrested Reilly in May. He and two China nationals who worked for GSK were charged with offering bribes to hospital personnel and doctors to boost GSK’s sales. All three defendants face up to life in prison.

In July last year, China authorities accused GSK of paying $482 million in bribes. The company hasn’t been formally charged.

Humphrey and Yu’s trial is scheduled to start on August 7.

Xinhua said they paid people in Beijing and Shanghai for personal information, which they then sold.

China authorities have said their trial will be closed to the public and foreign consular officials.

Two months after his arrest, Humphrey appeared on China Central Television and said he was sorry for illegally selling personal information.

He appeared again on CCTV Monday. In an eight-minute news report, Humphrey said he and his wife “deeply regret” breaking any Chinese law.

“He said ChinaWhys would not have worked with GSK if the drugmaker had informed him about the full details of the whistleblower emails,” according to Reuters.

Humphrey previously worked for Reuters as a journalist in the 1980s and 90s, Reuters said.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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