A British corporate investigator and his wife were handed sentences of two to 2-1/2 years in prison at a Shanghai court on Friday for illegally obtaining personal information about Chinese citizens and selling it to clients, including GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceutical giant under investigation by Chinese authorities.
Peter Humphrey was sentenced to 2-1/2 years and fined 200,000 yuan while his American wife, Yu YingZeng, was given a mildly more lenient sentence of two years and a fine of 150,000 yuan, Reuters reports. Humphrey will also be deported from the country.
The couple was detained by Shanghai police on July 10 and formally accused of “operating illegal research companies and trafficking personal information”.
Humphrey was hired as a private investigator after an alleged sex tape starring Mark Reilly, a former GSK China manager, was used in a blackmail attempt—information which has just recently come to light. It’s believed that Humphrey’s internal investigations are what led to Chinese authorities’ probe into corruption at the drug making company two months later.
Prosecutors said that the Humphrey and his wife illegally obtained and sold more than 250 items of private information. This included household registration data, real estate documents and phone records, according to Reuters.
The couple admitted that they were gathering the information under legal “grey area” but didn’t think that what they were doing was illegal.
China announced an investigation into GSK’s commercial practices in May of this year. Reilly was likewise arrested on ‘charges of ordering his subordinates to form a massive bribery network that resulted in higher drug prices and illegal revenue of more than $150m (£88m)’.