Chinese Court Sentences Foreign Investigators

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A Shanghai court has sentenced two foreign risk consultants to prison

on charges of illegally obtaining personal information about Chinese

citizens in a one-day trial that is part of a high- profile corruption

probe targeting GlaxoSmithKline, the giant international

pharmaceutical and health care firm. The Shanghai No.1 Intermediate

People's Court announced the verdict late Friday through its official

microblog: Yu Yingzeng and Peter Humphrey —partners in business and

marriage — were sentenced to two years and 2 ½ respectively. The

presiding judge said Humphrey could be deported, but did not say

whether the same fate awaits Yu, an American citizen born in China.

The couple ran a risk consultancy firm called ChinaWhys, specializing

in corporate fraud. Prosecutors accused the couple of breaking China's

privacy laws, which ban the purchase and sale of personal data such as

residency information, phone records and overseas travel records.

Bought personal information In court, Humphrey and Yu admitted they

bought personal information about Chinese citizens from three Chinese

companies. But they insisted the information was used to prove fraud

and embezzlement, and made up only a small part of the reports they

compiled for their clients. "The most important part of those reports

was investigation and analysis," Humphrey said in court, according to

official proceedings issued live on the microblog. Both defendants

said they investigated mergers, did background checks on partners or

potential hires, and looked into corrupt practices on behalf of their

clients. GlaxoSmithKline probed Their arrests last year coincided with

a corruption probe of one of the couple's newest clients,

British-based GlaxoSmithKline. The company was not mentioned directly

during the Humphrey-Yu trial, however. In his closing argument,

Humphrey maintained that the couple's actions were in accord with the

Chinese government's own campaign against corruption. "Humphrey did

put up a very spirited and effective self- defense, going so far to

say that his career in China is comparable to the 'graft busters,' the

anti-corruption operation launched by the party and government," said

Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the University of Hong Kong's China

Studies Center. Lam said it was clear from the start that the couple's

line of defense would not avert a guilty verdict, though they both

"have been very cooperative with the authorities from the start.

"There is also the fact that they are foreigners," Lam added. "So even

though the Chinese have insisted on the independence of the judiciary

in China, they do take into consideration China's relations with other

countries." Humphrey and Yu have 10 days to appeal their conviction,

but any reversal by the court is considered unlikely.


Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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