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August 22, 2013

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Briton in GSK probe arrested in Shanghai

A BRITISH risk consultant held in China since mid-July amid an investigation into the country’s pharmaceutical industry has been arrested, the British Embassy in Beijing and his family said yesterday.

Peter Humphrey and his wife Yu Yingzeng were detained in Shanghai on July 10 as police probed bribery allegations against British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

In China, an arrest typically means police believe they have enough evidence for a case to be brought to trial.

It was not immediately clear if Humphrey’s arrest was directly related to the investigation of GSK, which has been accused by Chinese police of funnelling up to 3 billion yuan (US$489 million) to travel agencies to facilitate bribes to doctors and officials.

China has taken a tough stance on corruption and high prices in the pharmaceutical industry as it unrolls wider health care access and faces an estimated US$1 trillion health care bill by 2020.

“We can confirm the arrest of a British national, Peter Humphrey, in Shanghai on Monday the 19th of August. We are currently providing consular assistance,” British Embassy spokeswoman Hannah Oussedik said.

Declined to comment

Oussedik declined to offer additional information about the reasons for Humphrey’s arrest. The US Embassy in Beijing could not be reached immediately to confirm whether Yu was also arrested.

The US Consulate in Shanghai declined to comment. Shanghai police did not respond to a request for comment.

A member of Humphrey’s family said both Humphrey and Yu had been arrested.

A source close to the family said that they had not yet been told which charges would be laid against Humphrey, or when. But lawyers told the family that the couple were detained last month because they broke a law related to buying private information, the source said.

Humphrey and Yu co-founded ChinaWhys, a business risk advisory firm that has done work with drugs companies, including GSK.

ChinaWhys website says Humphrey has been a risk management specialist and corporate detective for 14 years.

In March 2010, four executives from mining giant Rio Tinto were jailed in China for taking bribes and stealing commercial secrets.



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