Peter Humphrey has been released on health grounds after serving nearly two years of a two-and-a-half-year sentence, according to the Financial Times.
Humphrey and his wife and business partner, Yu Yingzeng, were detained in July 2013 by Chinese police, who were also investigating bribery allegations against GSK. The British pharmaceutical company had employed the couple to investigate bribery claims at the company and a sex tape featuring the then head of GSK China.
Soon after the couple began their investigations, Chinese authorities accused GSK of funnelling up to 3bn yuan (£312m) to bribe doctors to buy their medicines. Humphrey later criticised the pharmaceutical firm for not revealing the full extent of the allegations against them.
Humphrey is now said to be in a Shanghai hospital undergoing cancer tests and will be deported from the country once he is discharged, according to anonymous sources cited by the FT. His wife, a Chinese-born, American citizen remains in jail. She is expected to be released on 11 July, but will be allowed to remain in China.
The couple, who were paraded on state television in handcuffs and orange prison vests, were charged with illegally purchasing information about Chinese citizens, including ID and phone numbers. During their one-day trial, which excluded foreign media, Chinese prosecutors did not make any link between the GSK investigation and the case against the couple.
International observers criticised the secrecy surrounding the trial and airing of “confessions” on national TV, a common practice for disgraced officials in China.
Although Humphrey apologised to the Chinese government in a TV broadcast, he told the court he did not think the couple had done anything illegal. The couple’s son, Harvey Humphrey, also expressed concern that family and consular officials were denied access to the trial
Peter Humphrey, a former Reuters journalist and longtime China resident, set up the consultancy ChinaWhys with his wife in 2003 to conduct fraud investigations and due diligence for international companies.
They were hired by GSK to investigate a security breach, after a tape of the firm’s then China boss having sex with his girlfriend was sent to senior GSK executives, including chief executive Andrew Witty. Senior GSK executives also received emails alleging bribery.
But the couple became a target for investigators once an inquiry into illegal payments at GSK was launched. Humphrey later said he felt “cheated” by GSK and in a letter from jail he accused the London-listed pharmaceutical company of failing to reveal the full extent of corruption allegations against them.
GSK was fined 3bn yuan in September 2014 after a guilty verdict from a Chinese court.
GSK declined to comment. Calls to ChinaWhys went unanswered.
This article was written by Jennifer Rankin, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 9th June 2015 12.59 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010