China frees wife of British investigator in GSK case

China frees wife of British investigator in GSK case

Chinese authorities have released the jailed American wife and business partner of a British investigator linked to a corruption case involving pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a family friend said today.

British national Peter Humphrey was granted early release on Tuesday, seven months before his two-and-a-half year jail term for illegally obtaining the personal information of Chinese citizens was due to end. His wife was released at the same time, the friend said.
The British Consulate in Shanghai said on Thursday that China was preparing to deport Humphrey, but gave no time for when that might happen.

"We have been notified by the Chinese authorities that arrangements are being put in place for the deportation of a British national detained in China," a British consulate spokesman said in a statement to AFP.

Humphrey's wife Yu Yingzeng, a naturalised American citizen, had been serving a two-year term on a similar charge. The Shanghai court that convicted them in August last year allowed time served in detention to count towards the sentences of both.

The two ran an investigative firm, ChinaWhys, which was hired by GSK to probe a sex tape of the company's China boss and other issues shortly before the British pharmaceutical company itself become the target of a Chinese government investigation into bribery allegations.

Yu was also released on Tuesday, but the family was unaware until later contacted by sources in China, the family friend, who asked not to be identified, told AFP.

"She was released at the same time as Peter (Humphrey). We know nothing more," she said, adding the exact whereabouts of the couple was unknown although they were believed to be still in Shanghai.

Yu was originally due to be released next month.
A spokesman for the US Consulate in Shanghai declined to comment on her case.
GSK was fined 3.0 billion yuan ($490 million) by a Chinese court last September following a nearly year-long bribery probe.

The court ordered the firm's former head of China operations, Mark Reilly, to be deported, and sentenced four other former GSK executives to between two and four years in prison, state media have reported.

The company "resorted to bribery to boost sales of its medical products and sought benefits in an unfair manner", the court said in a statement on the ruling, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

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