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GSK investigator freed from Chinese prison

Published on 10/06/15 at 02:09pm
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The case is connected to the GSK corruption scandal in China which led to the country fining the firm £297m

British private investigator Peter Humphrey who worked for GlaxoSmithKline has been released from a Chinese jail following his conviction last year for illegally obtaining information about the country’s citizens.

According to the Financial Times Humphrey has been let out on health grounds, and will have served six months short of his two-and-a-half-year sentence.

His case was connected to the GSK corruption scandal in the country which led to China fining Britain’s largest pharma firm $490 million (£297m), after a year-long investigation into claims it bribed doctors to prescribe its medicines there.

The Shanghai court also sentenced his American wife Yu Yingzeng, who worked with her husband on the case, to two years in prison – however she still remains in jail.

The pair were found guilty of illegally obtaining Chinese citizens’ data and selling it to China-based multinational firms, including GSK China.

They were hired by GSK to investigate a security violation, after a tape of the firm’s (then) China boss having sex with his girlfriend was passed to senior GSK executives – including chief executive Sir Andrew Witty. The company’s executives also received emails containing bribery allegations.

Sir Andrew said at the time: “Reaching a conclusion in the investigation of our Chinese business is important, but this has been a deeply disappointing matter for GSK. We have and will continue to learn from this.”

Just two weeks ago Pharmafile reported on a Chinese health official being arrested on accusations of bribery, as the country continues to crack down on corruption cases in its pharma sector.

That followed the February sentencing of Huang Fenping who has been linked to the GSK scandal. The former deputy director for the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning received 19 years in prison for accepting bribes from pharma firms to promote their products. 

Humphrey's son, Harvey, has said in a statement on his father’s release: "I am stunned and delighted. I hope to see both my parents as soon as possible. My father may need treatment for his health, but he will soon be able to speak for himself." 

Brett Wells

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