China arrests British, American fraud investigators

Reuters, BEIJING

Wed, Aug 28, 2013 - Page 1

China has accused two risk consultants, a British man and his American wife, of illegally buying and selling private information, Chinese state media reported yesterday, amid a nationwide probe into the drugs industry.

The Briton, Peter Humphrey, and his wife, Yu Yingzeng, a US citizen, were detained in Shanghai on July 10 as police investigated bribery accusations against British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Lu Wei (陸煒), a police investigator in Shanghai, said on state-run CCTV the couple “wantonly” obtained a lot of information on home registrations, international travel, and property records.

They sold the information to lawyers, multinational companies and financial institutions, CCTV said.

Humphrey said in a statement broadcast on CCTV that he had occasionally used illegal methods.

“I sometimes used illegal means to obtain personal information,” Humphrey said in Mandarin to a camera as he sat handcuffed wearing an orange vest.

“I very much regret this and apologize to the Chinese government,” said Humphrey, who once worked as a journalist for Reuters.

ChinaWhys, the investigative risk consultancy Humphrey and Yu founded, worked for many firms, including GSK, separate sources familiar with the matter have said.

Chinese police have been investigating bribery accusations against GSK since last month, though Chinese media reports on Humphrey and Yu made no mention of the firm.

“We were concerned to see that Peter Humphrey was interviewed about the details of a case which is currently under investigation and has yet to come to trial,” Britain’s Foreign Office and Commonwealth said in a statement. “We are continuing to provide consular assistance to Mr Humphrey and his family.”

The US embassy could not immediately be reached for comment.

Jason Cai, a Chinese investigator who worked with Humphrey and Yu, was arrested around the same as the couple, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said. Cai was not mentioned in the state media reports, and his arrest has not been officially announced.

Shanghai police did not respond to a faxed request for comment.