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GSK investigator charged in China

Published on 14/07/14 at 07:48am
GSK image

The man who GlaxoSmithKline paid to investigate an illegally produced sex tape of one its senior employees has been charged in China.

Prosecutors in the country have formally filed charges against Briton Peter Humphrey and his wife Yu Ying Zeng, an American national, with ‘illegally obtaining private information’, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Humphrey’s company, known as ChinaWhys, was hired by GlaxoSmithKline China at a cost of £20,000 to investigate a sex tape of GSK China’s former boss Mark Reilly – that was secretly filmed in his Shanghai flat with his Chinese girlfriend.

The recording was then sent to a number of senior GSK executives, including its chief executive Sir Andrew Witty. This story is highly complicated as GSK is currently fighting allegations that it spent around £320 million fund to offer cash, prostitutes and gifts to doctors in the country.

These allegations were made public by Chinese authorities in June last year, with GSK saying it knew nothing about them.

But last month it emerged that GSK was sent details of these allegations in January 2013 by an anonymous informant known only as ‘gskwhistleblower’ – which state that the company used travel budgets to pay doctors up to £1,000 a month to encourage them to prescribe its drugs.

These emails were seen by 13 GSK executives, its auditing firm PwC and Sir Andrew.

A second set of emails reiterating these allegations were sent again in May last year, but this time along with the secretly recorded sex tap of Reilly, who has since been arrested and charged with bribery allegations.

Reilly, who still works for GSK, is currently separated from his wife and GSK has now admitted to the recording’s existence.

Sex, lies and videotape

At the time when these emails were sent Reilly hired the corporate investigator Humphrey to look into the security breach.

Humphrey’s report, code-named ‘Project Scorpion’, failed to establish who planted a camera in Reilly’s bedroom.

GSK had told Humphrey that he was simply looking at a ‘smear campaign’ into the firm, and neglected to tell him about the allegations by gskwhistleblower. It waited two months to tell him about the emails.

When he did finally see the emails from the whistle-blower, he said they were ‘totally credible’ and warned they would lead to an external investigation – a prediction that turned out to be true.

But in a further twist, Humphrey was arrested in Shanghai with his wife in August last year after he began to investigate GSK’s former government affairs lead Vivian Shi – who was suspected of being ‘gskwhistleblower’ – in relation to the email containing the video.

Prosecutors in the country said today that the couple “illegally trafficked a huge amount of personal information on Chinese citizens” for profit.

They go on to say that they also obtained this information by “secret photography, infiltration or tailing after someone”.

“Based on the information, the couple compiled so-called ‘reports’ and sold them at high prices to their clients, most of which are China-based multinational corporations, including GSK China.”

Local courts “will hold [a] hearing about the case soon”, the news agency Xinhua adds.

Ben Adams 

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